There is no better place to get to know people than along a hiking trail, preferably leading to a fun backpacking spot. I spent some time in the backcountry with co-workers this week and was incredibly enriched as I heard stories along the way. Sad stories, funny stories, stories of passion and vision, and even the quiet told its story. Going into the wilderness creates this equal footing of vulnerability together that cannot be duplicated anywhere else. There is a shared dependency on eachother as you encounter the elements and circumstances that come your way, temporarily carrying your life on your back. As you walk, you tell your story but are also living into the present story of shared journey. In the evening there was opportunity to reflect corporately using the metaphor of a rose, a thorn, and a bud. (For those who are familiar with the practice of Examen, is it loosely similar.) At the end of the day the group shared their rose moment of beauty, their thorn moment of challenge, and their budding hope of expectations. It didn’t take long to go around and hear the variety of responses to the day. This facilitated moment was a way of bringing all of those strands of conversation into a tapestry of commonality. When you travel in a group you can’t be with everyone as you walk, but moments like these give you a peek into the larger story. Like a drone, you get a bird’s eye view of the group experience.
One highlight that stuck out was the budding hope of a member of the group to check out a registry at the top of the peak we’d climb the next day. He had done that peak with his dad when he was nine and was excited to see if the name and note was still there after all of these years. Climb to the top we did. Then with his phone, he took a picture of the registry entry from 1997. We all huddled around him, eager to see it as well. His story, which began 20 years ago, had become our story too.
I don’t know that I have a neat and tidy point to all of this, save that I have come to relish how stories come about and weave together. I like it in literature, I like it in backpack trips, and I like it when I see God’s hand at work in humanity. I am thankful for the stories I am aware of and privy to, so maybe this is just an encouragement to anyone reading to go take a walk with someone and share life. If you can, go bag a peak too.