Algonquin Solitude

We’ve just returned from another trip to Algonquin. This one was a trip with 10 friends from our church. It reminded us of our reliance on communication and made me wonder again how folks in earlier times managed to feel comfortable about the well-being of those they are out of contact with.

Our group went to the park at two different times. Four of us, possibly more adventurous, went up on Sunday so that we could get an early start Monday morning. The rest, renting canoes that would not be available until after noon, drove up in the morning and planned to take a shorter route (without the 1680 meter portage). They would meet us at a predetermined set of campsites and we anticipated  they would be there before our smaller group.

There is no cell phone coverage in this area of the park.

Our group of four started out around 10 am. By about 3:30 we had completed our trip, paddled past the first five of the predetermined meeting places, all occupied by other campers, and claimed two sites for the night. We were surprised  our comrades had not arrived.  We ate our supper (some of which was to be shared with the absent) and continued to wait, becoming more and more concerned. We watched, waited, and wished  there was some way to communicate. Scenario after scenario played through our minds, along with a feeling of helplessness.  It got dark, we were tired, we went to bed.

As we settled down with our books, we heard voices, familiar voices. We jumped out of bed and trotted out into the open (initially with no pants) to see if it could be the rest of the group. Calling across the water, we brought them in to the campsite. They arrived tired and ready for bed. We got their tents up, a few snacks into them, and then to bed we all went.

The issue, it turns out, was a wrong turn at the beginning of the trip, confused map reading, and a compass that stayed in its place around a paddler’s neck. Their mistake wasn’t realized until a portage turned out to be shorter than the map suggested. They had spent nearly two hours going in entirely the wrong direction. After turning around, getting back to where they started, they finally started the trip they originally planned at around 6 pm.

All turned out well, but our lack of information left us worried, concerned, feeling just a little lost. Our reliance on minute by minute contact, leaves us unsettled when it is not available. Have we changed, or are we just less willing to trust that everything is OK, in God’s hands, than our ancestors were?

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A Rest Day

We slept a little uneasily last night, worrying about J´s feet, thinking about the stress of running around last night trying to find new sandals…..

In the end, all worked out.  We were the first ones through the door of the shoe store this morning, and not the one that we were headed to last night.  We found a more suitable one on our way to breakfast.  The lady in the store spoke English (bonus) and was very helpful and very quick.  We bought sandals, J left the box behind, put them on and off we went to the cathedral of Leon for a quick tour and then on to the bus station for the two-hour bus ride to Ponferrado and a hostel with 210 beds.

We are in a room with just our group, making it seem not quite so large, but it is amazing to see the pilgrims flocking into this place, sweating, hot, looking for a bed.  We feel a little bad that we only walked the 2 km from the bus station.

There is a famous castle here.  We saw it from the road as we walked but are planning to use the rest of the day for what it was meant for…rest and not a lot of touring around town.

Our tour guide leaves us today as did the class prof who is suffering from a damaged achilles tendon. The prof has walked a bit with us on his air cast and gets this look of longing on his face every time we leave him on the trail to go to his taxi.  He has gone for a week to France and will be back next week.

The eight of us will soldier on.

A Day of Pain

Today was not our best day, hopefully things get better from here.

This post will be short because it is happening on the computer in the lobby of the alberge. The little computer we are carrying is having problems with the back lighting on the screen, so while we can see that there is something there, we cannot read it.

J´s blisters are getting worse and we spent some time looking for a pair of walking sandals which may help to give her toes more space. Unfortunately, by the time we found the store in Leon it was closed (15 minutes late)

Today we walked 25km on the trail and then 2km to get to the alberge, J and I likely walked 4 more looking for sandals since the city of Leon does not appear to have many taxi´s.

Tomorrow will be a new day, hopefully better.

Figuring out about Calling

Discerning a “calling” is not an easy task.  A number of years ago I prepared and delivered a message to our annual youth service on the topic of discovering what God’s direction for your life was.  It’s easy to talk about examining yourself, listing your gifts,  listening to those around you,  talking with trusted Godly advisors, and all the other tools that are available to you…it’s more difficult to put those things into action and move out of what you know and find comfortable to a new unknown.

The whole calling thing has left me with more questions than answers.  Is it possible to be called to something that you don’t now recognize.? Lots of folks seem to think that I should head down the road of parish ministry.  I do have gifts in that area, but, is that the direction that I am pointed because folks know and recognize that role or because that is really the way that I am meant to travel.  Are the gifts that I have really meant for another role that I and those around me are not now familiar with?

Depending how things go at head office tomorrow, I may have a clearer picture of the future anyway.  More on that later.

The Matriarchs

I finished my third assignment today.  It was actually started today as well.  I did a bunch of research for it last night and put the four pages together this morning.  It was fun.

The assignment had to do with the matriarchs of Genesis 12-50.  Why are they there? What do they add? Was their story necessary?  My writing focused on the barrenness of these women.  Three of the four principal matriarchs were at some point barren.  Their stories center around their struggles to produce an heir so that they can be active participants in the covenant that God made with the male side of the family.  In all of it the message is clear, God makes promises which will be fulfilled in His time.  God is the opener of wombs and the giver of blessing.

In a way it is nice to know that God is in control.  We seem to work so hard to make our own blessing when, really, those blessings come from God.  The question is…Would it have been better for these matriarchs to just sit back and wait for God to bless them?  Certainly their interference does have consequences.  Ishmael’s offspring become a real problem for the Israelites,   Jacob has to run for his life and he and Esau never really get along.  If they had left well enough alone, would the story have turned out the same?

Should I be working to steer blessing my way or wait for God to send the  blessing ?  The answer likely has something to do with your perspective on life.  Right now, I wonder if I should be waiting for God to further bless me in the place that I am in, or do something about what I perceive to be less than ideal circumstances and seek greater blessing elsewhere.

Working on a sermon for next week now.  It looks like it will center on the first chapter of Haggai.  I think it is going to have me working over the issues above as well.

Assignment 1

Assignment 1 (Due date:  September 28, 2009)

In his Prolegomena to the History of Israel (1885) Julius Wellhausen argued that the books of the Torah or Pentateuch were the combination of four documents or sources. He named these sources JEDP and insisted that they followed a chronological order from earliest to latest.  This became known as the Documentary Hypothesis or Source Hypothesis.

Although these documents and their chronological sequence are generally accepted, modern scholars tend to see these documents as documents that reflect the times when they were written rather than the times they were writing about.  They are treated more as traditions than documents.

Write a short essay of not more than six pages in which you give a condensed outline of each of these traditions (JEDP) as reflected in the Documentary Hypothesis. Reference should be made to the time of origin, author, and focus of each tradition as well as its primary purpose.

I haven’t written an essay in almost 30 years and I am finding this first one a little daunting.  It’s not that I can’t come up with the material or that I don’t understand it.  The problem is the lost feeling that I have about the format that seems to be required.  The course syllabus states that I am supposed to follow the university style sheet when doing assignments for the class.  It’s not a sheet, it’s 37 pages long!!  On top of that I am referred to the seminary home page for more details on form for assignments and papers (15 more pages) which further refers me to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Society as the standard I need to follow for form etc.  This APA thing even has a web based tutorial.

The assignment is due Monday.  If I fully read and understand the style and form requirements, it is going to be late.  I am hanging on to the fact that the prof is a self professed easy marker and may be swayed more by content than by form.

Change

When you are through changing, you are through.  ~Bruce Barton

Even though I believe the statement above to be true,  I wish that sometimes change would just stop for a while so that I could sit back and just enjoy the scenery right where I am.  Of course, I can’t do that and likely we are our own worst enemies.

If we really didn’t want change, J would not have bought a new business.  Our schedules are going to be different.  New issues are going to come for us to deal with.  It’s going to cause change.

If we really didn’t want change this adventure of going back to school would not be happening either.  My priorities will need to be adjusted.  I may have to stop watching reruns of old TV shows on the internet and actually read some non fiction.  I’m really going to have to work hard to fit my work schedule in to my acedemic one.  At this point, no one at work knows that I will be going off to school on Monday nights.  I don’t think they would understand and I am not sure that there would be any support for this endeavor.  Since my job has me travelling all over the province, I hope that I can shift my job enough to open up every Monday night.  Change will happen.

If we really didn’t want change most of the decisions that J and I have made over the past 30 years would not have been made.  For the most part, the results have been good.  In fact right now I cannot think of a change that has happened in our lives that has not been positive (could be that a failing or somewhat biased memory may have something to do with that}

People move on as well causing that worried feelinjg that comes with any change to the status quo.  Tomorrow I am going to lose a friend and confidant at work.  I am happy for him as he moves on to something that excites him and will likely be a better fit than he has today.  I didn’t think his decision would affect me as much as it did.  I actually lost part of a night’s sleep and I’m not really sure why.  It may have been a bit of jealousy as he moves on to something that he chose rather than the aqueiesence that we both made 14 months ago after our company was purchased by a competitor.  Maybe it was concern about what this would mean for my current role and what new responsibilities (unwanted) were in the future.  Whatever it was, I am going to miss him.  More on this tomorrow.

Change always comes bearing gifts.  ~Price Pritchett