It’s five-thirty on a Friday and five English teachers sit amongst their backpacks, waiting for the vehicle that will whisk them away for a night of camping in the valley. After a full week of teaching, it feels nice to have changed out of Khakis and into ready-for-adventure pants. A couple bags of Tibetan potatoes later, the vehicle arrives, stacked with fire wood, prepared to tote gear and a few teachers-turned-campers.
Soon after pulling up to our site, we add a few more tents and people into the mix. A warm, inviting campfire is already sending smoke into the dusky air. Undoubtably, this is my favorite part about camping; the roar of a campfire, the great food cooked by its flames and the sweet conversation that mingles with its glow.
It’s now nine in the evening. Chatter is cut short by the thunder storm that decides to roll in. Campers take to their tent dwellings in search of shelter from the raging atmosphere. Thunder. Lightening. Loud. Flashing. Adrenaline surges through me as I lay squished in a thin membrane of a tent. Ever since that time I found myself on top of a fourteener, completely exposed in an electrical storm, the pound of thunder and flash of lightening triggers a sense of fear. Healthy, perhaps, but there was no reason to be fearful in this valley. I remind myself to breathe, the Father is always with me.
Eventually the storm blows through. Unfortunately, I’m not sleeping very consistently with my restricted wiggle-room. I need some air. So I noisily, awkwardly fight my way through three zippers and a rain tarp, fumbling to find my shoes. Once free of plastic and nylon, I traipse to a nearby rock. Snuggling into a crevice, I look up to a patch of exposed sky where the stars are poking through the blackness.
You might laugh, but having no idea what time it was when I left the tent, I have this crazy thought that I might get to witness a sunrise. Indeed, my little escape is taking place in the wee hours of the night, not even close to sunrise! However, here I sit, hoping the dawn will tare through the celestials at any moment.
Freeing and frightening. Sitting alone in the blackened wilderness sets you free in a way, but it can also tap into fears of the unknown. What lurks in the darkness? Will a Yak emerge from the night and start breathing down my neck? Will a scorpion crawl up and join me on my rock perch? Will the thunder and lightening return? Is there some other unknown threat that awaits out there?
As all these silly questions reverberate off the walls of my mind, a voice cuts to my heart, a voice that’s soft and strong all at once…
“Don’t be anxious. Don’t be fearful. Don’t be worried. Just Be. I Am.”
Good glory. I start to calm down. Of course. This is the Creator’s playground. And I know Him! He is good. What do I have to fear? Even in this country that can be so trapped by its fear, He is still ruler. And the dawn? It will come. Sometimes the wait seems so long and the dark feels thick. But the dawn WILL come. We all desire it, even if our longings are misguided and we mistake them with longings for small things. The dawn of the returning, when the Brave One comes back for us…this is what we yearn for.
Until then, I want to just BE, knowing that He IS.