Tonight is the end of a short camping trip to the beautiful Sequoia National Forest in Northern California, and I'm sad.
The trees that greeted my nature-starved eyes on the windy mountain road to the top took my breath away. I felt like a little kid seeing trees for the first time. The huge redwoods towered above everything and shook the priorities around in my head, demanding attention. We spent a lot of time admiring those trees. So cool.
The campsite was perfect! There were about 10 of us who pitched tents and chairs around a fire pit, anxious to explore and eat and breathe the fresh air.
We hiked to the top of a waterfall and through the ancient forest that constantly amazed us and inspired our steps. When we reached the top, we put down our heavy backpacks, slipped off our shoes and dove into ice cold water that refreshed every tired bone. We lounged and slept on warm rocks in the sun and scrambled over fallen trees and boulders, taking pictures and splashing each other.
We cooked simple meals that tasted like the finest chefs had made them and drank good scotch and beer. We cleaned dishes and built fires. We basked in the silence; the peace, and slept.
Leaving all of these things is not what makes me sad. Tonight as I sit in my room, standing on the brink of another Monday morning, I am missing the people that sat around that campfire. As we hiked and talked and laughed and cooked and lounged, I realized that the distractions of every day life that always seemed necessary and indispensable were abandoned in the light of our conversations and relationships. I'd forgotten that I am sometimes so caught up in the hustle and business of everyday life, that I forget that there are so many fellow travelers around me that I don't take the time to be in community with. I couldn't see the forest for the trees.
I think what makes me sad is that I recognized a glimpse of what we, as humans, are truly made for: multi-dimensional, intentional, genuine relationships with other people; tuning everything else out and being free to connect with someone else, speak and be spoken to.
I think the true tragedy might be that this trip where our true humanity was allowed to flourish was just a diversion from "real life." It is easy for me to get lulled away from the people in my life by technology or selfishness or a million other things and sometimes I mistake those things for Life as it was intended. I think this trip was a good reminder that if life is anything like camping, its time to take a little time and get to know the people around the campfire.