More than a few years ago, some close friends asked my husband and me to go camping with them. My husband was really excited about this upcoming weekend adventure. He envisioned using his Bowie knife like Davy Crockett. I envisioned him knocking out any bug that would dare to try and take up residence in our tent. If you are wondering, we had never been camping before.
The drive to our campgrounds in Wisconsin was quite nice. It would have been even nicer if we had left earlier. You see, we arrived at our campgrounds about 9 p.m. It was pitch dark in those Wisconsin woods, and it was raining. We kept the car headlights on so we could pitch our tents; my husband kept his Bowie knife by his side in case a bear happened to stroll by. I thought we should just sleep in our car, but then how would my lack of adventuresome spirit affect our friends who had extended the camping invitation in the first place. With a stiff upper lip, I learned how to set up our canvas tents, in the rain--my teeth chattering in the damp cold air. By midnight our tents were up, and we retired to our respective homes in the wilderness.
Once inside our tent, my husband got our lantern up and running, and then proceeded to blow up our air mattresses and set up our sleeping bags on them of them. Meanwhile, I went around the tent with my box of Kleenex, stuffing the tissues into every nook and cranny a bug might think of crawling through in order to spend the night with us.
We finally snuggled into our sleeping bags as the storm outside intensified. Every time the wind gusted a fine mist of water showered us. I was told later that this can happen in a canvas tent, and wondered why no one had told us to bring rain tarps for inside the tent. There was thunder, lightning and rain, rain, rain. Did people really think this was fun? I prayed myself to sleep, aching to be in my own warm, dry, cozy bed at home. Visions of sugar plums were not dancing through my head, while my husband, Bowie knife at his side, slept like a bear.
At some point, I must have fallen asleep, because I awoke to the wonderful smell of coffee. As we eased ourselves out of our sleeping bags, I did a quick look around for spiders. Seeing none in sight I was up and out of the tent, in need of that delicious dark brew.The day had dawned bright. My camping partner was ready to take on the day. Me, I just wanted to curl up in the back seat of our car and fall asleep. God had other plans.
After a few hours--KABOOM! More rain, more thunder and more lightning. Back to the mists of Avalon, as I affectionately called our tent home, but this time I was armed with another cup of coffee. As I sat there watching the storm through the tent flap, I could feel the presence and the power of God. I felt awe as I watched the magnificence of what he was doing; how he could keep the earth alive and nourished with his drops from heaven. I felt so small and humbled by his might and majesty. I began to realize that this camping trip was a gift from God. He gave it to us so that we could admire his handiwork in his creation. He knew that this trip was to become a respite from our busy lives, to dwell for a time in place that we seldom take the time to see because of our busy lives and schedules.
The rain dissipated and as night fell, the stars came out in their glory, and we were treated to the infinite glory and magnitude of his universe. Again, I sat in awe of his artistry in everything that surrounded us. Who was this God who could create such magnificence for our pleasure if only we would take the time to notice. As for camping, well, we did that again, but we will never forget the gift of being in the woods or how the clouds broke in the morning and the sun shone through, making the wet trees and grass glisten for a brief moment, until the rain began again, sprinkling the air and tent with a dewy mist, giving us a picture of his glory.