Last week I hiked up into the heart of the Pecos Wilderness with my dad and some old friends. It had been over a decade since I’d truly backpacked, not counting my winter hunting trips. It was great to set up the tent, cast the rod and catch some fish, and to renew old friendships.
So I don’t wander off in this blog, like my dad and I did on our trek up to Stewart Lake, I’m going to graciously trek right to the point. Though fishing was great, hiking was breathtaking, and reforming friendships over conversations about faith and serving in our own community was refreshing, what really hit me was the weather.
Yep, I’m going to talk about the weather. Okay, I promise that my next blog will hike back into the realm of backpacking and what a joy it is to wander, especially when wandering into challenging conversations of faith and community.
I want to talk about weather, because I want to talk about grace. Have you ever noticed how we can’t really control the weather? It either rains or it doesn’t, especially when you’re out in the wild. Grace often works the same way. You either receive it or you don’t. It’s never something you deserve.
As my dad and I hiked up the sun slowly baked us. It was hot, and it stayed hot all week long. The last time we’d been up in the Pecos Wilderness it had rained non stop. I remember it being so wet we had a river in our tent. Not this time.
It was weird that it didn’t rain. I really didn’t mind the lack of rain, but it just felt weird.
As we hiked 9 miles down out of the wild it was so hot my feet started to burn. I had to walk on my toes so my heals wouldn’t blister up.
What little water I had left at the end of the trail I dumped on my head just to cool off. It felt amazing. A little water can really be gracious on a hot day.
The water dripped off my bare head and shoulders onto the dry ground, evaporating immediately.
It wasn’t until we drove out of Las Vegas, NM that we felt the first drop of rain. Or at least the Nisan Titan felt the rain. The rain clouds looked like hands dragging their long fingers along the dry mesa tops as if they were scraping for last crumbs.
It was gorgeous. But inside the cab I still felt parched. We’d brought along two Dublin Dr Peppers for a celebratory drink at the end of the hike, but, as they’d been sitting in the hot truck all week, we were forced to wait until they could be cooled down with ice. As we sep north on I-25 I couldn’t stand it anymore, so I popped open our two Dublin Dr Peppers. They were ice cold. As I swigged down the real sugar drink, I knew I’d just broken my sugar fast, but after the dry hike it was worth it. Mine tasted phenomenal. Probably as good as rain does after a long dry summer.
As we drove through Pueblo, Colorado the rain was coming down in sheets. I was thankful we hadn’t faced this type of rain on our trip, ’cause now I was safe inside the cab of the truck with the AC blasting and no need for rain to cool me down.
Inside the cab we were listening to U2’s album All That You Can’t Leave Behind and as the rain died down the album came to a close. Bono was singing about Grace.
Grace, she takes the blame. She covers the shame. Removes the blame. It could be her name.
It hit me, not like the soft rain we’d driven through in New Mexico, but like the drowning rain in Pueblo, we need grace just as we needed water on our hot hike. I had to press repeat on my iPod so I could listen to it again. It made me think, am I showing grace to the people around me or am I like the hot dusty trail I hiked on?
Am I a thirst quenching Dr Pepper or am I a hot pair of boots rubbing blisters?
Bono says, “Grace finds beauty in everything. Grace makes beauty out of ugly things.”