In the Pecos Wilderness east of Santa Fe, New Mexico there is a very special place. I have probably written numerous posts before about this place. But it is time again to remember. In remembering, I give thanks for the experience Along the Way.
You see, it is August and that is the time of year most often used in my work schedule for wilderness hikes and camping with family and friends in places different from Texas. Mostly it is a time to escape the hot temperatures of my home state. And also to enjoy the higher elevations, usually greener environments, and nature's beauty and majesty. This place you see in this photo afforded a sacredness on multiple occasions when my spiritual life needed a boost. God was present. Indeed, God is present each time I remember this place in my heart and mind. More to that matter in a moment.
This year our family will be taking several day trips around the Austin area so that my 97 year-old father can participate. He enjoys getting out of the house just like we do, but the gear involved to make a longer trip is cumbersome. We traveled out to Bastrop State Park earlier in the week. As we enjoyed a late afternoon picnic seated on a refurbished day use table under a remodeled roof top leaning on a 1930s stone fireplace, we told stories of when Mom & Dad brought their three children camping here in the early 1960s. Fishing, camping, hiking, swimming, nighttime shuffleboard, board games (remember those played before smart phones or Ipads or Xbox), and so much more crammed into one week of vacation for an itinerant minister and family. Great memories indeed. You can imagine the smile on my father's face as he remembered the one-that-got-away. Yes, we have lots of fishing stories in our family about catch and release fishing. The release part was not always on purpose.
Now back to the matter of sacredness and God's great glory displayed in the wilderness. So many of our wandering stories of the bible reflect the imagery of wilderness as a time rich with the experiences of God's presence. Abram journeyed from his home in Upper Mesopotamia into the drier hill country of Canaan. He journeyed in faith believing in this one God among many that called his name I am the Lord. A sacred call, a sacred journey, a sacred covenant - we remember the story and tell it as it was our own. And as Abraham's descendants, the people called Israel, journeyed in the wilderness with God upon leaving the forced labor of Egypt, they wandered through a sacred time. So many more stories from the Hebrew scipture tell us of God and the names that he was known for... the purposes of God's relationships.
Beginning August 28 at Manchaca United Methodist Church, we will examine some of the names of God. We will remember the sacred stories of God's love, God's provision, God's healing presence, God's breath and re-creation in this world. Let us come to worship and praise the name of the One who created all things. Let us remember our role in the covenant of God's blessing. I invite you to remember the experiences that bind you to each other as a congregation and a family of faith. Bring your families. Give thanks!
Along the Way
Author: Paul E Harris
Journal posts from a pastor and spiritual friend