When you return from a trip, you return changed in some way. It may not affect you to the core of your being, but something is different as you pull into that familiar driveway then walk into your familiar door. It may just be that your body is tired or refreshed. It may be that you have stories to share, that you’ve learned something new you want to tell people about. In some way, you will look on your more familiar world with slightly new eyes.
I returned from my trip down the Pacific Coast full of aches and stiffness. The joints in my legs did not bend so easily. Both of my feet were covered in blisters in spots common to long hikes. The backs of the ankles. The big toe. The center top of the foot. And part of the arch. My body was showing the signs of being out of practice. It was not used to 40 miles of hiking over 3 days. But my spirits were high. I felt a lightness, a patience with the world. I remembered some things that brought me joy that I had forgotten. I was much more ready to listen and engage people. I sought to joke and laugh more with the people I encountered. I was reminded how important it is to connect.
Easter Sunday came early, because at my camp we annually host a community sunrise service. I woke before the sun to begin set-up for the occasion. This is the first one I have hosted as director of Camp Magruder. Whenever you host something for the first time, there is the inevitable worry that something will be forgotten or done the “wrong” way. I woke early to try and make sure I remembered everything, but there were still items that required scrambling. Remembering where we keep the camp offering plates, transporting coffee and hot water, getting the refreshments set up and having a clear place to put garbage. These are all crucially important to celebrating the resurrection of Christ. Weak coffee or poor scone placement is unfortunately the type of disappointment that is hard for people to come back from even if Jesus has indeed risen.
In the midst of my Easter scrambling, I wanted to remain in tune with what I wanted the focus of the day to be. The return of life, the way life has this incredible resilience to defy death, the way that even when it seems there was been a defeat that something is still brewing and waiting to spring up. I wanted that to be my focus, not the idea that a misstep on an Easter sunrise service would spell the end of civilization as we knew it. While traveling between two buildings running supplies, I encountered a duck couple waddling around the driveway. It felt like they had come up to tell me something. They had not. They flew away when they figured out I was walking in their direction. But, it did shift my perspective a bit. I thought about how this duck couple would have little yellow balls of fluff following them soon. I knew this because I have seen it. I had forgotten how refreshing and encouraging the promises of Spring can be though. There is something about witnessing life returning that speaks to me if I am able to really pay attention to it.
Later that day I got a text from Hope that said
Troy, I saw a whaaaaale!!!!!!!!!!!!
She was out on the jetty with a friend. Allyson’s dad, Albert, has been wanting to see whales since we talked about moving to the West Coast. We put on our shoes, loading into the car and drove out to the jetty. It was a beautiful spring day with clear, blue skies. Surfers were out, riding the waves created as the ocean came in to the shore, cut up by the rocky jetty. We didn’t make it out to the edge of the jetty where the whales were most visible because of the roughness of the terrain would not have been good on Albert’s ankles. Even so, there was so much to see halfway down this impressive human-engineered pile of rocks that took us out a little farther into the vast ocean.
It has been raining this winter and spring. Raining a lot even by Pacific Northwest standards. There has rarely been a day this year I haven’t gone out without a rain jacket. That would be a bad move. The sunny moments in a day are rare and incredible. The rain has been so unforgiving that its been important to find some combination of defiantly getting outside rain or shine and finding engaging things to do inside. One regular activity that has developed with Allyson’s parents is sitting around the fireplace and discussing the day. Allyson would get as comfortable as possible on the floor with pillows, and as we all conversated, she would give us updates on the baby’s movement. It has been a comfortable, relaxing time as the wind and rain poured down outside.
In the middle of the week, we had a school group who signed up for boating. This was the first boating period of the year which meant I had to bring the row boats out of their sleep, flipped over on the shore of the lake. These row boats are wooden and solid. They are almost impossible to flip over in the water, which is a plus. But, this also makes them even harder to flip over on the land. I went out early to get everything set up. I carefully lifted one end of the boats, let them peak, then flipped them upright onto their hulls and pulled them into the water. From there I would hop in and row them over to the boat dock where they would moor for the next several months. As I brought them back into the water it began to rain. The lake was totally calm except for the drops landing on top it. Rowing out into the lake with the rain picking up, I felt a part of something big surrounding me, inundating me from all sides. It was cold and wet, but I felt alive. When the rain died down the wind began to pick up, so boating would need to be cancelled and try again tomorrow. I did not feel like the morning had been squandered, though.
On Wednesday, Allyson and I would go into the lawyer to work on estate stuff that we felt was important with the baby on the way. These big boy, big girl undertakings bring on a lot of convoluted feelings. In this world we’ve created for ourselves, there are so many institutions in place to shape our abilities to do what we do. If you play the games in place, you can take care of yourself and your family. To a degree these are in place for us, sometimes though it gets out of whack and it feels like we are in place for them. Allyson and I went over the statements, signed the paperwork, and we hope it will avert some difficulties if a difficult situation should arise. It’s easy when you play those games, though, to dwell on them too long and get obsessed. After the lawyer, we went to the Pelican for dinner. Over food we talked about life and the ways its ever changing for us. We are in this time of life springing up from places it was barely a seed before. This is constant, always there for us to witness in some form. The tricky part is knowing what to pay attention to, knowing when to move on, remembering to laugh at the amusing stuff, and never fall out of love with life swimming, flying, and running all around us.