Saturday, November 23, 2013

My why, Why I am planning on hiking 2600+ miles - Part 3

There are two sure things in life - death and taxes, neither of which is natural or normal, regardless of our attempts to deal with them and accept them. Especially the first, it stares at us with it's hollow eyes from every dark corner. On sunny days and when we are with others in a jovial mood we can pretty much ignore the leering skull under the black hood standing in the shadows... waiting. But you can't escape the reality that someday death comes for you.

Tragedy struck my life again in 2010. The scythe swiped through my life and separated me from my friend Bruce. We met in 1994. I was in my early thirties and showed up at his church with my young family. Bruce was a pastor. We began meeting for lunch and for whatever reason, he was drawn to me, and I to him.

I thought perhaps he needed someone to help out with the youth program or something. Perhaps he did, but he never vocalized it, or if he did, I said no, and that was that. Our relationship blossomed into a heart-to-heart friendship not unlike the one described in the Bible between David and Jonathan. We spent years having the same types of discussions about the Bible and theology that I had with my dad. Bruce was there for me when my dad died, and I was there for him when he lost his mom.

There are times in my life that I have experienced a "transcendent moment", an instant in time that I felt like I never wanted this moment to end. Bruce and I shared a lot of those moments. Bruce was a simple guy and liked simple explanations. He liked specific things and didn't like other things. Once his mind was made up, it was almost impossible for him to change it. There were just a few times where I was able to change his mind. The fascinating thing was that once his mind was changed he was just as dedicated to his new position as he once held his old.

The tragedy of Bruce's life is the opposite of my dads. Bruce's memorial was attended by large numbers of people, all of which seemed to remember moments like mine. He had a large number of "close" friends. In my mind I thought they all had a similar understanding of Bruce's theology that I had come to know. However, once Bruce was gone, suddenly everyone had a different understanding of what he was about. It's a sad fact that the apparent 'band of brothers' that Bruce had gathered around him were neither a band, nor brothers and quickly went off in their own directions.

With that being said it is remarkable that Jesus' followers not only remained together, but built one of the worlds greatest religions. Something that demonstrates to me not only the strength of Jesus' words and life, but the veracity of the claims of his disciples that He was the divine Son of God. Otherwise, none of us would have ever heard of him. They, like Bruce's "friends", would have wandered off into obscurity and anonymity.

Like I started to say earlier, the tragedy of Bruce's life was opposite my dads in the sense that a great number of people experienced a profound loss on his passing. But very few would agree on exactly what it was that made Bruce so special. For myself, I can only say that I am the person I am today because of the profound impact that Christ had upon my life through my friendship with Bruce. He lived his life in the presence of his creator. He lived in the conscious expectation that God would judge his every action and word.

At the same time that Christ was leading and drawing me through my friendship with Bruce there are a few people who were more interested in being an FOB (Friend of Bruce) than being a FOC (Follower of Christ). They have adopted some kind of weird antinomian libertine lifestyle based on a philosophy of "If it doesn't feel good, don't do it" that they would attribute to something Bruce said. It is fascinating to me how different people can be so differently affected by one person's life.
My life journey has a character metaphorically similar to what I see when I think about the PCT. Just as the PCT passes through a number of breathtakingly beautiful places in a seemingly accidental way, in reality it is a planned, furrowed, specifically defined track that you are either on or you are not. It is deliberate in its apparent randomness.

From a distance my life may look like a accidental meandering journey with starts and stops and unpredictable switchbacks and turns. For me, as I live in real-time, it feels like I am being driven or guided or compelled. I feel as though I am living in a story with an origin in the mind of someone outside of myself. That the journey I am taking and the path I am on is in a script where I have a part to play and I cannot decide to not play my part without denying the person that I am becoming. There is a deep sense of purpose and reason in my desire to hike the PCT. In order to be true to the person I am becoming, my path lies squarely down the track of the PCT.

The purpose of this journal is to provide to the reader my thoughts and feelings as I take this journey. The reader I have in mind as I write is first of all my future self, and secondly those who want to know me, and finally those who want to know what is like to plan and hike the PCT. It is also my intent and purpose to point you subtly toward the author of my life that you might experience life as I do.

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