A couple thoughts occurred to me at that moment. The first was that, the worship was impromptu. It wasn’t organized by anyone. No one told us we had to worship. The guitar got pulled out around the campfire and thats just what we did. I think that is part of what made the moment so incredible. The second thought I had, I’ve been contemplating since. Its that it is kind of odd for me to think about the fact that each and every person around that campfire could be have been having a similar thoughts in their mind. They could have been reminiscing a moment from their past or thinking how nice the crackling fire sounded or thinking how good the marshmallows we had just eaten were. Charles Dickens wrote “...every heart is a profound mystery to the heart beating nearest to it…” I think in that moment I started to understand what he meant by that.
Friday, after work at FOTF I found myself in an SUV with four of the other interns, camping gear for the weekend in duffle bags, backpacks, and (in my case) stuffed in laundry bags. We sat in the car for about two and a half hours together, driving around the precarious, twisting, side of different mountains. During this time we talked, and talked, and talked. There was some serious conversation about our faith, futures, families etc. But we also talked about things like drinking too much caffeine or peeing beside a highway. If you’ve never experienced a long car ride like that with strangers, let me tell you- they’re not strangers when you exit the car.
That night we set up our tents and hammocks, and finally got around to dinner after the sun had set. It was the first time I had ever stuck a chicken breast on a stick and cooked it over the fire like it was a hotdog, but because I was so hungry and anything cooked over a campfire is good, I enjoyed it. After eating our share of s'mores we had worship and a new sense of community seemed to enter our group of interns. By the games we played and the jokes made after that you would have thought we’d all been childhood friends.
After investing in a $15 hammock from amazon last summer, I could never go back to sleeping in a tent. So Friday night I lay in my hammock with multiple sweatshirts and two pairs of wool socks on, and a blanket pulled up over my face. The gentle rocking of my temporary bed made me realize why parents put their babies in cradles- its pretty soothing. I had hung my hammock over a ditch so waking up the next morning with half my body falling out of the hammock was not the most comforting, but I suppose it woke me up quickly and substituted for my usual AM cup of coffee pretty well.
I was eating a banana and drinking water (which I had gotten from a spigot thing at our site. It came out milky and tasted a little weird but water is water) around 9am that morning. Beside me was another intern who was holding a map of all the hiking trails in our area. About .5 miles from our site was the trailhead to a 9.1 mile “moderate” path. I spent about 5 minutes trying to convince the intern that we could do that hike, but was shut down pretty quick. We compromised on an 8 mile route, crossing three different level trails (which I came up with myself and was pretty proud at the time). Unfortunately when our trip leader came over and asked us what we came up with she said absolutely not. So we settled on the only alternative near us, the 3 mile moderate hike. We had plans to go into Boulder- the city near us- after hiking, so we wanted to get back with time to spare and (apparently) we wouldn’t have that if we tackled an 8 mile hike.
One thing about Colorado that I hadn’t thought about much prior to this camping trip is that the elevation is high. Like really high. The elevation in Colorado Springs alone is the same elevation as the highest mountain in the Adirondacks. So now add even more elevation, because we’re on top of a mountain and there you have it- very very thin air. For those of you who have never experienced this, thin air equals less oxygen, quicker dehydration and faster sunburn. The girl who could do four Adirondack high peaks in one day was feeling short of breath within the first mile.
I floated between groups on the hike, talking with different people as we all panted along. I also spent quality introverted time, walking between groups, listening to conversations about nikon verses cannon and missions trips to the Dominican Republic, and contemplating my own thoughts. As my mind circled around the idea of individuality and each person’s life being as intricate to them as my life is to me, I also got thinking about questions we all ask. I’d spent the last 20 hours asking people questions and answering questions, but what types of questions do I ask myself? (I get it, it’s weird that I was asking myself a question about questions that I ask myself… but hang in there- I’m going to make a point). I came to conclusion that I ask myself a lot of “how” questions. My T (thinker) mind is always asking how I can make things better? Thats not a bad thing. I also ask a lot of: How can I make money? How can I make people like me more? How can I be prettier, or funnier, or happier?…etc. For a brief moment, as I was stepping over a big red rock, having this realization, I felt kind of sick. I have spent so much time in my mind, trying to answer some pretty meaningless questions. If every person is living in the same sort of mindset as me, making their own memories, having their own thoughts, these “how” questions are so self-centered and temporary. Shouldn’t I be asking myself something deeper?
After descending the mountain and cooking some more chicken breast for lunch, we drove into Boulder. I talked about Manitou Springs in one of my other posts and described it as a hippie version of Lake Placid, but Boulder- this place is another story. The shops downtown were ritzy- like free people (where people pay hundreds of dollars to look homeless), and artsy (like a shop called “Art Mart” complete with artwork and jewelry from local artists). Our first stop in Boulder had been at a coffee shop called “Flatiron Coffee”, to take care of our caffeine headaches. After that we walked around and watched hippie street musicians and magicians perform. We walked into little used book stores next to pot shops and spent time in a tea store where the worker let us sample whatever we wanted and explained the best way to brew Chinese tea. Finally we stopped for dinner at a place called “The Kitchen [Next Door]”.
This restaurant was pretty hipster. I split 3 gluten free and vegan appetizers with two other girls and was pretty happy. We ordered sautéed kale. I personally love kale and have never had an issue eating it, but I know a lot of other people can’t get past the bitterness. Everyone at that table who tried it loved it. So if you’re ever in Boulder, “The Kitchen [Next Door]" is the place to go.
As I lay in bed that night, exhausted from the busy day, my mind came back to the thought of questions that I ask myself. It dawned upon me then, perhaps I should be asking “why”. Like “why am I here?”, or “why did God open the door for me to be at FOTF this summer?”. These questions are deeper and challenge me to live intentionally, to serve others, and seek meaning in the mundane, everyday life.
So today, as I’m sitting on my bad, back at my host families, watching Ellie dance on my rug, I’ve decided to ask myself more “why” questions. Not to say I won’t ask “how” questions ever again, but I think if we all asked more “why” questions and sought “why” we are here, we might see the world differently and live more selflessly.
Just a few thoughts.
"I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read and all the friends I want to see."