Saturday, March 11
Communing with Nature
One of my favorite ways to experience and marvel at Godís creation is spending time outdoors. My experiences have been varied -- from listening to waves crashing the shore to sleeping beside quiet mountain streams to helping expose the remains of animals buried hundreds of millions of years ago.
Many experiences stand out from my time spent in Boy Scouts. One is the fire my patrol had to build when we arrived at my first summer camp. It was pouring rain. We knew we couldnít possibly build the fire we needed to cook our food, and we were despairing at the thought of going to bed hungry. Our scoutmaster assured us it could be done, and left us to it. Eventually, after taking turns shielding the fledgling fire with our ponchos, we had a fire no rain could quench. The survival lesson I learned, and the confidence I gained, has stayed with me.
Because my two best friends were in a troop sponsored by a Catholic church, I joined that troop and became the only non-Catholic in the troop. On one of campouts, the scoutmaster suggested I earn my God and Country award so I could develop my faith just as my friends were doing in parochial school. I did so, and it was formational in the development of my faith.
As a high school student, I participated in a 23-day Outward Bound program. The highlight was a 3-day solo, which I spent beside a mountain stream. Three days alone with time to think allowed me to reflect on my life and helped me prepare for my upcoming transition to college.
When my son was of age to join Boy Scouts I was eager to nurture his interest, and I served as a volunteer. Our scoutmaster was deployed to Iraq, and I was asked to take over. I thought back to how my scoutmasters had helped me and knew it was time for me to give back. I spent seven years as scoutmaster and was able to watch my son and other boys in the troop go from awkward young kids to young men prepared to be leaders.
I donít always have time for extended outdoor adventures, but I can catch some precious outdoor moments for reflection when cooking on my grill. I cook with hardwood, and I particularly enjoy lighting the fire and spending a few minutes watching the kindling flicker and become a fire that warms me. It sometimes seems a shame when the fire is ready for cooking, and my mini-campfire comes to an end.
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