Karl here, from Aotearoa (New Zealand), and crikey, the past weekend was intense! (I should note that New Zealanders don’t actually say ‘crikey;’ I think the Aussies make up way stranger phrases…) Last Wednesday I went to a barbie where rather than hotdogs and burgers on buns, we feasted on sausage on toast. At the said BBQ, I met Hauke and Soren, who are from Germany
and Denmark respectively. I had planned to hike around the port hills near Christchurch by myself, but they asked that I join them on a ‘tramp’ at Arthur’s Pass, as backcountry as New Zealand gets. Of course, I could not reject such an offer! Much to my demise, I only packed one extra set of light clothing, minimal food, and a sleeping bag. When we were soaked by a barely successful river-crossing, warmer clothing would have been invaluable. I spent the next three hours chattering my teeth and rubbing numb extremities. Fortunately, my sleeping bag was dry, and we were able to sleep in a hut. The next day we hiked up to a cable car over a stream, which was both interesting and exhausting. While one of us sat in the car, the other had to crank a pulley to get them across. Since the sun was out, we let our wet clothes dry, and we sorted out lunch. Six hours, sore feet, and bruised knees later, we arrived back in Christchurch and civilization. On our return, we stopped at Burger King, and never has a Whopper tasted so delicious! New friends and gorgeous views aside, I learned more about myself and about life on my first true trek into the wilderness than I could have imagined. I surprised myself at how far I could push myself, physically and mentally. I realized how much potential an individual has when he makes a commitment, and how exponentially that potential increases with the support of comrades.
I cannot lie, at home I have not been the most active, but I know my limits now. I know that when I can’t feel my toes and fingers, I can still press towards a goal. I know that when I am faced with a difficult river crossing, there is the promise of a warm bed and roof over my head on the other side. I know that I cannot focus on the details, like stubbing my toe on a stone or pebbles in my shoe, or I will miss the beauty around me. Yet, I cannot be so goal-focused that I forget to enjoy the path and camaraderie. I think the same lessons very much apply to my spiritual life: “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:14, ESV) I can’t wait to go hiking again!
Karl Johnson, U. of Canterbury, N.Z.
Listening to: Mumford & Sons Sigh No More and John Williams Star Wars OST
Just watched: Road to Perdition and The Simpsons