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The forest circled around me and arched its way to the crest of the moon. The trees formed a canopy that seemed to hug me close. And here, comfort was hard to come by. The branches framed the sky, allowing only the brightest stars to shine their light. Tall grasses whispered praises. Crickets chirped in celebration and small twigs broke at last. Gentle fireflies flashed in the breeze, which blew the moisture off my skin. I breathed in damp air, which refreshed my lungs. I walked the creviced path, viney and lit with torches. Ferns grazed my ankles as I tiptoed to aviod sharp rocks. The path widened as I entered the safe heaven. The sweet melody of laughter filled my ears. I was instantly at peace. The darkness kept me from my sight, but could not steal my security. I held my flashlight in one hand, God’s word in the other, and appeared to the others from the trail.

Voices guided me to the weary benches which slowly emerged from the growing fire. People laughed, sprinkling complaints and ungratefullness in their conversation. I was irritated that I noticed the complaints because they tarnished a perfect day. As I settled into my seat, the span of the day fell over me, reminding me of the trek of our Savior. The wood beneath me was moist, causing my shorts to wrinkle and sweat. The feeling of the moist bench distracted me from being comfortable. My shoulders grazed those of the others. They reminded me that I wasn’t alone, which I already knew. I had known for quite awhile now, that if I was with God, I couldn’t be alone. God had made loneliness futile, it just required a conscience effort on my end. But sometimes that effort felt like it was too much to ask, similar to the effort of weaning a child off his pacifier, especially being so far from home.

As they chatted, I folded my hands and looked up into the sky. Once I raised my face to the sky, it cooled, as if relieved to no longer be turned towards the fire. It was then I noticed how clear the night sky was, and how late the day had grown. The dark hid many things, including tears. Tears which, without warning released from a place of which I was unaware. Perhaps it was the long day, the worries I had yet to hand over, or the sore spots I was still attempting to control. A rush as it seemed had come over me.

I didn’t know why I was here, but I was. I had no explaination why I’d been given this moment in time, or the entire week of faith exploration; but I did know God. And I suppose as I sat there and attempted to free myself of the thoughts reminscing in my mind, having that was enough. I’d grown concerned about why the others were here as well. With that I became frustrated with myself because I knew I didn’t need to be concerned with such great responsibility. It was God's responsibility and I seemed to always try to hold back the water dam with simply the span of my arms. As I contemplated my thoughts, which I wished I wasn’t having, He began to ease them, drifting back into the simplicity. First it was nature's simplicity, and then God's and finally, my own.

I felt natural, yet blemished. Soon, I joined the others in conversation which was hushed by the voices of our mentors, mellow and faint. The entire week, they’d always offer time to pray, or an ever so gentle hug. Their voices talked us through the next step on the rock wall, and guided us safely through the erie caves.They’d been the peace keepers of the trip and I felt as if we followed them. Their leadership similar to that of Jesus being followed by his disciples.

Attentive, I turned my body forward, placing my naked feet firmly on the ground. They felt steady for the first time all day. They felt callused. But still, my back ached as I struggled to maintain my posture. Fumes of insect repelent suffocated me as it was sprayed excessively. A cloud surrounded me for a short time, like agitating gnats but dispersed quickly and returned me to my harmony.

Any distress had faded now, which left me floating in the nights humidity. My heart beat, in love. The strum of a guitar string broke the surface of the night. A low drum beat sounded every couple of seconds. I lifted my hands as I closed my eyes. The small crowd drew in closer, sheltering my shoulders tight again. As I began the first verse, shaky, so did everyone around me. Sweetly broken, wholly surrended, I was there; and we began to worship.





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