The photo is borrowed and is typical of a process known in backpacking-hiking circles as a "shakedown." A person lays out for view of others everything that is to be taken along on the journey. Then the critique begins. "You really don't need that, do you?" "I see you are doubling up on certain items; that's extra weight." And the process as designed helps a hiker not carry anything extra on the journey. It's a process that depends on the view of others. It's a process that works.
This shakedown process first worked for me as a 14 year old Scout joining a troop of other young lads from Austin on an adventure to the Philmont Scout Ranch near Cimarron, New Mexico. I remember going through the process with my tent-mate, and then my junior leader, and then my Scoutmaster. Each step along the way something "fell out" of my most needed backpack possessions. And then we arrived at Philmont and the opening ceremony and adjustment days in base camp. Our ranger, another more experienced Scout, came alongside each of us and made his own critique. The good news is that he didn't slash much more from my "stuff." But he did recommend a few modifications.
I am preparing again to be outside, hiking and or camping in the majesty of God's creation. Because the morning temperatures here in my part of Texas have dipped into the low to mid 50's, I can imagine myself with a three-day pack exploring, walking, meditating, praying, and all the things I do in relationship with the Triune God while alone on a hiking journey.
It has been awhile since I got my camping-hiking gear out. I did this morning. Laura witnessed the activity all the while saying, "Just come back in one piece. We have work to do here." I laughed and I listened. So over the next few weeks, I will be in shakedown mode with a goal of several overnight outings nearby to test my gear. Then, when able, I will load my pack and my travel bag and set out. Several places beckon. The Pecos Wilderness. Big Bend. Southwestern Colorado. The deal is this: those points of interest will have to wait until the current season I live as care-giver is completed. It's a season I cherish. And at the same time, I long for the trail.
For now, I am in shakedown mode. A period of examination and readiness. Waiting. Wondering. Longing.
Along the Way
Author: Paul E Harris
Journal posts from a pastor and spiritual friend