From time to time during my camping trip to the boundary waters, I wondered why people like to camp to begin with. Simple things are three times as hard to do.
For instance, you don’t just get in bed. You have to put on long underwear and zip yourself up in a sleeping bag because the overnight temp will drop to 40 degrees. Then about 2 am you wake up needing to go to the bathroom. You don’t just go. You have to engineer a reverse process, plus put on pants and shoes, and scrounge around for a flashlight. Then you hope you won’t encounter something larger than yourself sniffing around out there for dinner scraps.
And speaking of going to the bathroom, that campsite toilet occupies an unpleasant category all its own. We were told to glance into it before sitting down because certain critters had been known to crawl inside. The problem is that one look would burn a nightmarish image into your brain hard to forget, especially when you were trying to eat later on.
Then there’s the hassle of filtering water, sleeping, dressing, and other sundries. But by far the worst inconvenience is bad weather. While on this trip, we were hit with the mother of all summer cold fronts. Winds of up to fifty miles per hour ripped our tarps, dumped sheets of rain on us, and turned the lake into a white-capped fury. For four days a purplish-gray gloom muted the entire landscape.
I was sitting on a massive boulder overlooking the lake when the monochrome finally broke. Drab cotton moved aside, and the blue heaven above it reintroduced itself.
As the low hanging cloud bank drew back like living room curtains, the sun rolled waves of light over the lake. Treetops transformed from shadows to patchwork greens of every hue. The violent darkish liquid of the lake water immediately danced in millions of blue flecks—an undulating reflection of the pastel sky.
The sun made everything it touched instantly beautiful.
Two things occurred to me. First, I remembered why people like to camp.
Second, I felt I had just witnessed the imagery of the prophet Malachi, who wrote of the coming of Christ: “the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings” (4:2), and the apostle Paul who wrote: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17).
Jesus Christ doesn’t darken or smother life. I used to think of Him as running around blanching the color out of everything. Actually, life without Him begins that way—dingy, dampened, and every bit of potential stunted. We get used to living in this low light condition until the day we open the drapes.
We didn’t know we could ever feel this…alive.
True beauty is not only something alluring, but that which is capable of making everything else beautiful just by virtue of standing near all of it.
Photo: Crab Lake