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Pastor’s Pen                                                                           August 24, 2016

 “The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.” Mark 6:30-32

            I love mountain climbing. I love the planning that necessarily takes place months in advance. I love the training for endurance sport that makes it possible to climb fourteen hours at altitude. I love the camaraderie with wilderness people who thrive with spare provision and thin air. At altitude, the common affairs of humankind fade to insignificance, if only for a time.

            There’s a kind of purging that takes place in advance. The lighter the load, the easier the climb. You have to get this right the first time. There’s no turning back because you forgot the first aid kid, sunscreen or sunglasses. It’s essential to have the right amount of fuel for the number of hours you anticipate for your ascent and return, plus twenty percent extra in the event that injury prolongs your evacuation.

            You have to leave your ego behind along with all the unnecessary stuff you won’t need. Yes, you really will look dorky in wool socks and hiking boots, and yes, you really will have to create a bathroom above tree line in a way that respects the hikers that come after you and retains some modicum of privacy.

            The higher the climb, the less the pretense at anything. You know when you start the day that you may not finish, and there’s nothing you can do about it. If a storm rolls in, or you or your climbing partner get injured, or you accidently drop your pack or your water over a cliff, you’ll be turning back early. I’ve come within five hundred feet of a summit and had to head down when a white out blizzard dropped down around us, obliterating visibility.

            Jesus told the disciples to take a vacation. He knew when they needed a break from their focused labors. For them and for many who live here on the coast of New England, the water calls the weary to the water, where wind and sail blow life’s necessary stresses out to sea.

            Whether God calls you to ascend to the heavens on some rugged mountain trail, or drift aimlessly on the sun-drenched sea, come away with God and rest awhile.

Prayer: God of labor and rest, we thank you that whether gathered or scattered, you are with us. Strengthen our faith and renew our spirits in these last weeks of summer,  that we might return invigorated for the work and mission for which you have chosen us. Amen

God’s grace, mercy and peace,

Pastor Anna V. Copeland