September 15th to the 25th is a special time in Washington State. It is the time that hunters are allowed into the high country for a rifle deer hunt. I was fortunate last year to go on the hunt with my brother-in-law into a gorgeous area in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. The high hunt combines two great things, hunting and backpacking. It takes a hunter by foot into remote country to meet the deer head on in their own environment. Needless to say the harvest ratios are low and the experiences wonderful. Last year we heard one deer move away from us at lighting speed and the deer we might have wanted saw us enter the alpine basin and moved out hundreds of yards away from us on the mountainside. After a long hike up there all we saw were large hoof prints and lots of scat. Oh well, it was a grand time. In honor of the high hunt I am wearing my short sleeve, collared camo shirt to work today. Yes, I am wearing camo to work in the tropics. I am sure that many people envy my camo shirt.
It is times like this that being here are harder for me. While there are some wonderful things to do here and things we won't likely do again so easily it is still hard. It reminds me of being with people I love doing the things I love. It was so great to be in the mountains looking for deer with one of my best friends. We were in a secluded area so we felt like we had the whole woods to ourselves and in the off times we were able to talk about important things. During the hunt I was praying about coming to Kwaj. We knew moving to Kwaj was a possibility and I remember vividly talking to Marcus about what that would mean for my family's life, our relationship and life in general. Our talking while doing something is what men do. So often in church we try to get men together for the sake of talking and it just doesn't work. Women might be more open to getting together just to talk but men really aren't. What we need to realize is that men communicate alongside each other, that is when they are out doing something. We need to start getting men out of the church building doing things together and then we will start to see lives change, especially when you have more experienced men alongside less experienced men.
One of the things that is part of life is missing people and experiences. We know that when we move from here we will miss this place and the experiences here even though we treasure being with the people we love. Life is a mixed bag and we need to learn to let that be okay. We seem to have bought into the idea that we can have pleasure all the time with no pain. We have been sold down the river in believing that buying more and having more will leave us content. What is true is that live is mixed with pleasure, pain and everything in between. The key is for us to be grounded in who we are in Christ and to live from there. It is knowing the love of Christ that then informs all the rest of our lives. Getting the order right is essential. Christ's love and grace are first and foremost, this is our baptismal identity and it is our eternal future.
Being grounded in Christ's love changes the way we experience everything. We experience everything with our Lord alongside us with hope, mercy and love. While I am missing the high hunt and my friend this week I am held in love. Therefore my soul is content and I have peace in the midst of my longing to be in the mountains with Marcus. The two experiences/emotions can happen at once. They are not mutually exclusive, yet the love of Christ is more powerful than the longing. The result is the longing to be home doesn't capsize my life and steal my joy. This is true of all of life. Learning how to hold both things together is something we learn and a gift all at the same time. I think much of it is a result of prayer and longing to experience the love of Christ. I am convinced that God will give the experience of being his beloved in Christ to any who seek it. It is worth seeking, actually there is nothing greater to seek.