Thursday, June 25, 2009

Backpacking and the Kingdom of God

Backpacking and the Kingdom of God
Dcn. Dale Matson
So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well (Matthew 6:31-33).
On a recent backpacking trip with my sons on a portion of the John Muir Trail I was reminded how much one has to pack to comfortably sustain oneself in the spring season Sierra Wilderness. It amounted to about thirty five pounds of gear carried in each of our backpacks for the four days we were out. This time of year it can and does even snow at the higher elevations. The basics of backpacking are warmth in dressing and sleeping, protective clothing and shelter from wet weather, food, water and navigation. If it were simply a matter of pure travel survival for four days, one could get by with just shelter and warm garments and a sleeping bag. There is plenty of potable water in the fast running creeks and rivers. Thus, one can either survive with minimal equipment or comfortably travel with a few added items. A fit and sound person can carry on his or her back an equipped and portable home. Even though this sounds like a lot of equipment to carry, it is minimal when compared to what we have surrounded ourselves with in the materialist culture that calls out to us that we are incomplete unless we have this or that in addition to what we already have. Those who have moved to a different home in the last few years still remember the rummage sales and throw away items. Moving is a wonderful opportunity to divest. In a way, the backpacker could be considered both a pilgrim and a monk traveling to a particular destination with simplicity.
Now, how does this compare with the totality of what each of us possess? Perhaps I could also say those things that possess us. When it comes to the point that folks have a home but need to rent a storage shed for their belongings, it seems that they have become possessed by their possessions. We are a society that is rich beyond measure even in our poverty. King Solomon himself would be envious of what any one of us has. “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’" (Matthew 19:23-24)
Backpacking is a way of getting back to the basics and getting back to the Kingdom.

1 comment:

Dale Matson said...

For those that have asked me about this photograph. I took it at about 8pm near our campsite in McClure Meadow in Evolution Valley on the John Muir Trail. The light is natural and is referred to as "Alpenglow". As you can see, the meadow is more of a pond this time of year created by Evolution Creek.