Two recent weekends have introduced me to the experience that is ‘Wild Camping’.
When this concept was originally suggested to me the thought of being out under the trees sent shivers down my spine; dark shadows, the rustle of undergrowth, a midnight ‘howl’ chorus, and bugs of all description taking advantage of exposed faces, all conjured in my mind! I may not be a celebrity, but the phrase ‘GET ME OUT OF HERE’ was hovering on the tip of my lips, even before the date was set!
We had been blessed greatly by the 2014 summer and it was not to disappoint as it continued to give us two beautiful weekends as the autumn calendar began to open its doors. Both micro-expeditions, subsequently found themselves in the idyllic surroundings of two of Cumbria’s ‘Northern Lakes’; the canvas had been lovingly painted to melt my anxious thoughts.
Our journeys commenced with open canoes laden with all that we would need for a night ‘under the stars’; flanked by welcoming mountains that seemed all but touchable, paddles began to glide through the gentle, crystal waters.
Words cannot do justice to the beauty and majesty of all that surrounded us; the ‘Artist’ had truly presented His creation in all its finery!
As vessels steered to dry land it seemed a shame to move from these waters, but our own creation story was required if we were going to find rest for the night!
Territories staked out, there was much excitement in the air as hammocks, tarps and (dare I say it) tents, along with survival, bivvy and sleeping bags, were revealed and carefully positioned; ‘lodgings’ in place it was time to turn our attention to the all-important matters of fire and food!
Bulrush, bow-drill, straw and kindling in place the first attempts to generate heat began. With bow-drill in full friction the emergence of smoke could be seen, the advancement to a more modern form of ‘fire-lighting’ however, was required to translate this into a spark … the fire steel was brought into play!
It was the next part of this process that had me transfixed, and spoke once again of life’s journey. As the small spark took hold in the bulrush, the ball of straw that it was embedded in was lifted to the air to allow a gentle, consistent breath to be blown through it for the spark to be brought completely to life with dancing flames producing light, warmth and sufficient power to cook!
The image before me reminded me that many times through life we are asked to do things that maybe we have no qualification or any real equipping for, just the minutest amount of talent with a willingness to offer it for use. Viewing this from my walk with Jesus as my saviour and friend, I could see those times when I have handed over the smallest of offerings in many areas (emotions, talents, time, relationships, financial resources etc) to God (sometimes hesitantly!!), for Him to breathe life into. What has happened next has, on many occasions, brought about something beyond anything that I could dream or imagine; my world lit up to bring change, transformation and the ability to achieve.
With the beautiful picture of ‘michelin man’ proportioned hands lovingly holding us and life giving breath being blown into all that we are and can be; camp camaraderie, around the now glowing fire, in full flow; I was ready to embrace my ‘sleepover’ with the stars and all creation … including the ones that were to crawl over my face in the night!!