Impulsive Lessons

I’m home sick this afternoon, so I thought I’d write a quick blog about the past four days in my life. It started Thursday at the church, when a high pre-Easter stress level drove me to throw my things in the back of my car after work and drive 190 miles to the northwest. Seem odd? Well, I knew that my life was wound up in a ball of anxiety and I needed rest and relief. So I did the one thing that brings me rest — I went camping in the mountains.There’s something special about the mountains and canyons that awakens my soul. In Flower Mound life is claustrophobic and hectic. There is noise everywhere and the tallest objects I have to look up to are water towers. Or airplanes flying overhead. Even in my own home — once dubbed the “Monastery by the Lake” — there is noise constantly flooding my ears. Some monastery. The power went out last night and I was once again reminded of how much noise fills my life, from the fridge to the ceiling fans.

Silence inside is disturbing. But outside in the mountains… peace. And spirit. And fellowship with my Creator.

The Wichita Mountains. Can you believe these are in Oklahoma?

Because I only had two off days, I couldn’t go far so I went to the tallest mountains within reach —the Wichitas in southwestern Oklahoma. With elevations reaching 2,500 feet, they’re practically Rocky. Practically. Rocky. The rocky peaks of the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge rise from the southwestern Oklahoma plains dramatically, giving the appearance of altitude and sudden scenic beauty. And stars. You can see the stars out there. And wildlife. You can walk right past a deer and not know it until you’re past. Here in suburbia, deer are on the constant run from numskulls in SUVs. So am I.

So I got away for a few days. Did the camping thing, did the photo thing, did the tourist thing, and just chilled. It was wonderful. But yesterday afternoon I couldn’t get rid of a throat ache and it soon spiraled into a nasty cold.

I’m learning more about myself through weekends like this past one. I’m learning that sleep can be rare in a tent yet somehow be more restful than any night I spend in my bed at home. Maybe that’s because I’m learning to let go of my fears in personal security and trust God. In a tent in a wildlife refuge there is little security. I carried a pellet gun by my side but if a mountain lion, buffalo, coyote or other mammal wanted to, it could rip right through my tent and endanger my life. So I’m learning to stop paying attention to crunching leaves, grunts and other noises outside my tent and close my eyes to sleep. The past few trips I’ve used ear plugs, putting my life in further jeopardy. So I say a prayer each night that the Lord would protect me through the night and close my eyes in assurance that He hears me.

I’m learning that sunsets are God’s little-big way of showing off. I watched a sunset on top of Mount Scott, 2,400 feet of granite and scrub bushes. I’ll show you the timelapse video I shot later.

I’m learning that thunderstorms are awesome things to witness from 2,400-feet up. Again, I have some video to show you later.

I’m learning that no matter how many times I see a lightning bolt or how far away it is, a little shiver still goes up my spine. I guess I’m not a brave as I think I am.

I’m learning that I love my iPhone and the information available to me in the palm of my hand. I was not only able to find businesses but also to monitor the weather, do research, and play Solitaire. Cool.

I’m learning that taking chances sometimes pay off in big ways. Yesterday afternoon I drove off the beaten path to a long-forgotten piece of American history: Platt National Park. Where, you ask? For

70 years there was a national park in southern Oklahoma until it was merged into a recreation area in 1976. In fact, Platt was among the first generation of national parks. I drove to Sulphur, Okla., and spent four hours lost in a beautiful wonderland of trees, springs, streams, waterfalls, and hiking trails. I plan to go back. And, yes, I shot video.

Storms erupt east of the Wichita Mountains in Oklahoma.

In the evening I once again surprised myself by being impulsive. As if the whole trip wasn’t impulsive enough, I stopped my southward progression away from a tornadic thunderstorm to turn around and head back towards a funnel cloud. I was on the safe side of the storm but a big part of me longed to stay and storm chase. I got such a rush from being that close to danger (which on the surface seems to go against my nature) but, trust me folks, thrill-seeking is part of my being.

So I had a good few days. Now I must pay with this cold. It seems that nothing is free except grace and salsa. With chips, of course.

— John