Is it worth it?


It would be helpful if I were writing a sermon.  Or writing a confirmation blog post. Or writing the annual pastor’s report.  I will start doing all those things tomorrow.

But it is, after all, my day off.  After a four mile, cold walk with a backpack (not far enough for a real workout),  I decided to head off to a favorite grocery store that specializes in all sorts of interesting food options.  I am beginning to plan my backpacking menu.

I should first say that my more  experienced hiking team member for the 2015 trek through Virginia doesn’t cook on the trail.  Instead he survives on ready-to-eat food/snacks and then investigates meals off-trail whenever possible.

In contrast, I’m admittedly inexperienced but undeniably stubborn—in this case, about food.  I have decided that I will need a hot supper in the evening. Maybe I am only following the path of the Hebrews in the wilderness who, after crossing the sea, soon began pining for the leeks and onions of Egypt.  But to assuage my desire I have purchased a little, light-weight stove.  I haven’t used the stove yet, although I better soon learn how.  Meanwhile, tonight I tested out dinner menu #1 on the kitchen stove: a box of quick cooking couscous with basil and herbs, topped with dried kale snack chips and a small package of salmon.  Yummy.

To backtrack a bit: the main equipment for this pilgrimage is already borrowed, bought or hand-made.  The tent, sleeping quilt and pad, cooking equipment, clothing, hiking poles, and water system  sit in the spare room waiting.  What’s left to gather and prepare are the food, the toiletries, and the first aid items—those things  that will get used up and  will need resupplying on a regular basis along the way.

It’s the food, actually, that takes my planning into a new stage today.  Suddenly the journey has become personal and imminent and sensory.  I choose, cook, smell and taste it now.  I imagine myself somewhere after a hard day’s hike, rummaging through the pack to get out the stove, lighting a match, boiling water (hauled up the hill from the spring), adding the dried meal to the pot, and then waiting hungrily to eat (while my team member is already munching beef jerky).  Now the reality of what  I am getting myself into is beginning to strike home.  Will this particular meal I am testing tonight be worth the bother of it all?  In the rain?  When my body hurts? When I just want to crawl into the tent and sleep?

I take another bite of couscous with salmon—too good not to call this a successful dinner menu #1.  And as for the rain and pain and weariness—will it be worth it? Who knows unless I try that too.

By the way, I know I still haven’t answered the earlier question of why I am doing this.  Yes, I will tackle that question soon, although I’m not always sure I know why myself….