by Kim Schuelke
In the early morning twilight, I shiver. The mountain camp’s damp coolness calls to me as I grab fresh clothes and towel and head for a steaming shower, eager to feel the cotton slide out of my mind and wash into the drain. Briskly rubbing down and throwing on fresh clothes, all that still needs done is my hair and makeup. Then it’s time for the best part of camp. My wristwatch congratulates me for being right on time. It’s 5:30.
The cabin door squeaks a little as it opens, but it’s okay. My husband and three boys keep snoozing. I head straight through the little cabin and through the door on the other side. My friend doesn’t need awakened. She is already up and moving, and we tiptoe outside, exhilarated by the success of our quiet secret mission.
We begin the journey—a two mile hike twisting and ascending through the private world of Amish country in Jefferson County, Pennsylvania. This is the first time for Faye, and I’m excited to be sharing the best part of camp with my dear friend. It’s a slow trip for her as she’s overweight with poor circulation, but it doesn’t matter to me. I’m enjoying listening to the birds chattering their wake up conversations, and the chipmunks scurrying through morning housecleaning.
Clip-clop, clip-clop. We move to the side of the asphalt road as the horse and buggy approach. An impassive, bearded man nods his head and continues on his way. When the ascent trails off, we begin sharing our inner thoughts. Reaching a fork in the road, we veer to the right without discussion. Neither of us has been this far before, but somehow we both know we will find it here.
It isn’t long before we do. The sun is shining forth its burning brilliance as we settle down in a farmer’s field to pray. We have found our prayer sanctuary, surrounded by light and birds, dew and squirrels. As we settle down, cross-legged in the weeds, the coarse grass tickles our upper legs. We agree to wear long pants the next time.
For almost an hour we share our thoughts with God and each other, and then, with a longing look around us, we leave our sanctuary and return to camp. The trip back is much easier. Now we are going downhill, with burdens lifted, covered with the reassurance of God’s love and care.
Back at camp we return to our families and to the joy of three warm, lazy, September days. And by the next evening, when the campfire blazes, I can barely sit still to enjoy it. My legs are covered, from thighs to ankles, with poison ivy!