Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Hiking at Camp Sumatanga

I've lived back in my hometown now for going on four years.  It's been a wierd time, in some ways, seeing things that have changed so dramatically since I was in high school.  (But it's been good, too, being able to watch college football with my dad on lazy fall Saturdays!)  The philosopher and I have visited parks and other places I used to haunt as a child, and he patiently put up with my never-ending stream of reminisces.

Once place we hadn't been, until a couple of weeks ago, was the Methodist church camp where I spent many an afternoon and weekend attending church picnics, retreats, and 4-H summer camps.  (Yes, I was in 4-H.  Please pick your jaw up off the floor!)

In general, things hadn't changed much.  Some paved paths where they used to be stone, and upgrades to the cabin and lodge.  The camp is on top of Chandler Mountain, and sits in a little valley below the peak.  There's a steep, mile-long trail to the top, where there is a lighted cross that shines out over the valley.  As a kid, I only made that arduous trek once - I always opted for the much easier stroll to the far side of the lake - so the route through the trees was less clear in my memory.  We finally hit the upward trail (after doing a little accidental trailblazing of our own) and the steep climb began.  We met a group of weekend campers coming down, full of enthusiasm after having defeated the mountain, giving us high-fives and saying "you can do it - it's awesome!" (Sigh.  I didn't think I felt that bad, but we must've appeared weary and exhausted to the kids!)

When we arrived at the summit's cross, we looked down into the valley:

 Alabama is a beautiful state and being atop a mountain, even in the early throes of winter, keenly reminds me of that.  I have to say I was disappointed by the cross - it was probably the Coolest Thing Ever when I was 13, but after attending college at Sewanee and walking to this every weekend, a metal structure covered with neon lights doesn't do it for me.  Still, the view was incredible.

We continued our trek back down the mountain, and instead of following our original trail we turned north so we would end up by the lake.  Ahhh, the lake.  I was permanently scarred on that lake when I fell out of a canoe.  It took me decades before I would willingly paddle a boat again!  The camp has created a paved walking path with benches and swings since I was there last, and it was a welcome relief from the slippery leaf-and-needle covered trail.  We had our lunch on a swing, and the philosopher went to investigate the lakeshore.

 So it was a good day, full of memories and philosophical discussion.  It's getting too cold to go hiking these days, so we're planning our next foray for 2011, when Spring returns to these southern climes.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas Prayers

There are many things that need prayer these days, and there are many things to be thankful for, as well.  So.... what's at the top of our Christmas thankgivings and prayer requests?

Prayer: The philosopher still doesn't have a full time job.  Of the two positions he applied for this fall, he finally got a rejection email from the school in New York.  (Would it be wrong to say that's a thanksgiving too??!?)  We have yet to hear from The Happy Southern School, but he does know (through the grapevine, as it were) that he's still on the short list.  They're calling references for other candidates, and I expect they'll do phone interviews with them soon.  I hypothesize that if no one measures up to the philosopher, then they won't bring anyone to campus and their will be much rejoicing in our house.  But if they do bring someone to campus, it could likely be late January before we know anything.  So prayers for dealing with the stress and anxiety, and prayers that we can finally settle down to be Wherever We're Supposed To Be.

"Almighty God, who hast promised to hear the petitions of those who ask in thy Son's Name:  We beseech thee mercifully to incline thine ear to us who have now made our prayers and supplications unto thee; and grant that those things which we have faithfully asked according to thy will, may effectually be obtained, to the relief of our necessity, and to the setting forth of thy glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen"

Thanksgiving: Even without a full time job, we're getting by.  God has been good, and we're not in need of anything.  I read so many stories every day of families right on the edge of losing everything and families that *have* lost everything, and I praise the Lord that we are comfortable, and safe, and warm. (Well, safe except for the cat, who likes to lie across doorways at night like a large fluffy trip-monster!)

"Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we, thine unworthy servants, do give thee most humble and hearty thanks for all thy goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all men; We bless thee for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all, for thine inestimable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. And, we beseech thee, give us that due sense of all thy mercies, that our hearts may he unfeignedly thankful; and that we show forth thy praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up our selves to thy service, and by walking before thee in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen."