When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him....—Psalm 8:3-4
(Photo - David Ryan)
I’m 23 years old and finally going camping—my friends have pressured me into it—and as we wind up the washboard dirt road, which, one lane wide, winds up a craggy mountain, unforgiving rock faces to our right and a voracious chasm to our left, I’m sitting in the back seat learning what car sickness really is, and I’m convinced: Camping is not for me. Never was.
And hour and three miles later, I collapse out of the car clutching my stomach with two fears—one, that I’ll die very soon, and two, that I won’t. Eventually, after I detox in the brisk August air, I start to feel well enough to help set up camp. I’ve not noticed the monumental mountain pines or the still cerulean lake just south of our campsite. As the sun slips behind the mountains, in the waning sunlight, we hike to a pond to the north about a quarter mile. We listen to the song of the frogs and the hum of the mosquitoes until the last light follows the sun under the horizon. In the dark, we hike, guitars in hand, to a rock which drops down to the lake. I stretch out, hands behind my head, look into the midnight sky under the scattered stars.
Here, under the stars, the mountains to my back, the lake beneath my feet, I understand, maybe for the first time, what it is to be small.
Someone is playing the guitar softly and I wonder how God could even know we’re there. More so, why would he care where we were? I am the least of all his creation.
My children are small and glorious. They are completely dependent on us for their well-being. They trust us and love us unconditionally.
I’m thirty years old now. In a few hours, the final bell will ring at the school where I work. I’ll pack up my laptop, my coffee, my stack of innumerable essays, and I’ll drive home. My son, Josiah (three years old going on twenty) will rush up to me and jump into my arms, a smile splitting his face. Elijah, my other son (one year old racing like a train to two) will spit out his pacifier, shout “Daddy,” wrap both arms around my knee, and insist I walk him to the kitchen for a snack. I’ll look at the picture of my wife’s latest ultrasound and marvel at the wonder that is the child growing within her.
And I will understand God a little more.