Wednesday, April 15, 2009

An unorthodox Easter

One of our church members is through-hiking the Appalachian Trail, all two-thousand-plus miles of it. He's keeping an online trail journal (a blog by any other name) and below is an excerpt from his Easter Sunday post (warning: I didn't pick the names. Trail names are...colorful, to say the least):
Six hikers wake at dawn in Walnut Mtn Shelter. We all join and acknowledge that it is Easter morning. It is easy to forget what day it is on the Trail. Maybe we are all trying to remind each other and remember the meaning of the day. Charlie from Plano,TX says he knew he had a problem when his new mother-in-law awakened him and his wife on their first Easter morning as a couple to tell them the eggs had been hidden and it was time for them to get up and find the eggs. John Nascar asked Charlie if he got married at 12?
As we were all laughing Joe Kickass was peeling an orange that he had selected the previous day from a trail magic bag 13 miles back. He gave each of us a section and said "Happy Easter". It tasted better than any glass of orange juice I can remember. What an Easter morning. A sunny day after a week of brutal weather. Rich laughter from a story by a dry talking Texan. And a delicious orange slice being given to me while my legs were being kept warm in my sleeping bag. It was a grand start to a glorious sunny and mostly downhill day
I cannot remember a better day. I feel blessed and thankful. SL

I'm struck by what a sacramental moment took place there in that shelter with an orange shared in a unique community, bonded not by faith or race or upbringing, but by common experience and desire.
Wouldn't it be nice if church had just a little bit of that? We're meant to be drawn together by our faith, but that's just what gets us in the door, if we're lucky. After that, it's the experiences we have in common, the stories we share, that create our community. It is Christ lived in us, in our interactions with one another, our words and actions and those indefineable moments of acceptance and grace, that binds us together...not our privately held faith, but the life we share.
I'm not suggesting that sharing an orange equates to the Eucharist. But I am suggesting that something sacramental and elemental took place in those hikers' shelter. Sharing a meal together marks an intimacy that we forget about when we pick up food in a drive-thru or eat a meal in front of the television. And the trail experiences have created a sense of intimacy that brings together people of all ages (my friend has met hikers in their early twenties, and although he's in his early sixties, he's not the oldest hiker he's met), from all kinds of places, and all kinds of circumstances. I suspect Christ was in their company.
As for me, I'm thinking about orange slices and sleeping bags and free grace.

1 comment:

  1. amen! life is so varied and free when we are open to experiencing it... i mean when we ditch or preconceived notions of things. i'm hoping to do a little more ditching this easter season myself....


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