A young woman set out for the Sierra on a camping and hiking adventure. This was a solo trip as she just wanted to get out, be away from the chaos of the city and enjoy some moments of solitude. She had been wanting to explore some of the aqua-colored lakes of the Big Pine area, so she set up camp at a nearby campground and hiked a 14-mile loop around the lakes and back. Afterwards, she drove to a campground further up the highway so that she could explore another trail.
Her last night at the second campground started out pretty uneventful. That is, until something very strange happened. She had purchased some wood while in town so that she could enjoy one more campfire before heading home after her hike the next day. She had a really nice campfire going at the other campground, so she looked forward to the same experience this time. Things didn’t go quite as planned.
First, the wood didn’t want to burn, as if it needed some “priming.” She tried numerous times to light a fire and eventually there was success, but the fire immediately burned out. She didn’t have this much of an issue at the previous campground and the fire pits were pretty much the same. The wood was also the same, so she was baffled that the fire wouldn’t remain lit. The sun disappeared behind the mountains and the breeze picked up and turned chilly. She shuddered and tried once again to start the fire. This time she was more hopeful. The fire started, burned for a few seconds, but then diminished. Her hope was short-lived.
After the same thing happened about 10 or more times, she was done. It wasn’t even 7 o’clock yet, but she was ready for bed. Surrounded by empty campsites, she felt isolated and cold. The fire pit was also cold. Frustrated, she doused the pit with water to ensure there was no chance of a fire igniting when she turned in for the evening. She decided to leave the unused portion of the wood for the next camper or give it to the camp host upon leaving the next day. Maybe they would get better use out of it.
She went to her tent and tucked herself away from the cool air and away from the disappointing heap of nothing that she left just yards away from where she was to lay her head. But instead of lying down, she sat and cried from the depths of her heart. These tears weren’t falling because of the failed campfire. These tears were the result of a deeper longing burning within the crevasses of her heart and soul. She hoped against hope that her cries made it to the heavens and that the God of the universe was actually listening, but she wasn’t sure. The only thing she was sure of was the deep pain and longing in her heart that she kept tucked away like a precious piece of jewelry in a delicate box.
These were the same cries uttered from her quivering lips since she was a little girl, bright-eyed, and filled with a multitude of hopes and dreams. She wasn’t supposed to be alone at this time in her life. She was supposed to have a family of her own, a husband and children to love and look after. This should have been a family trip and not some solo adventure to be experienced by someone who couldn’t even start a campfire. How could the One who heals the brokenhearted look upon her sorrow and do nothing? She was provoked endlessly by her brothers and sisters who had what she wanted so badly. The tears just kept pouring from the windows to her soul. But no one was watching and no one was listening, or so she thought. She laid her head down on the soft, fluffy pillow and closed her eyes, still feeling the sting of tears.
She lay there listening to the breeze stir the branches of the pine trees above her. The rainfly of the tent flapped constantly and she was grateful to have staked it down. She was getting colder, but she didn’t want to put her bed clothes on too soon as she wanted to make one last trip to the restroom before darkness completely blanketed the campground. Suddenly, she smelled something. It was faint at first, so she thought it may have been her imagination. But then the smell grew stronger. She thought smoke must have wafted up from one of the nearby campsites and tried to ignore it, but the aroma grew even stronger. Finally, she decided it was time to take a peek outside.
She unzipped the door to the tent, stepped outside, and what she saw stopped her in her tracks. Inside the fire ring where she had doused the stubborn wood with water, a perfect campfire steadily burned. She walked over for a closer look to see if her teary eyes deceived her, but there was most certainly a campfire burning in that pit. She looked up to the sky, exhaled, and knew immediately that the cries of her heart had been heard. She dragged her chair back to the fire pit, grabbed her book and iPod, sat down and enjoyed the beautiful evening and the warm, comforting, reassuring glow of the fire. Even as she writes this, she shudders at the recollection of the events that transpired that brisk evening in the wilderness.
On her iPod, a song by artist Steffany Frizell played:
You have been
And you will be
You have seen
And you will see
You know when I rise and when I fall
When I come or go, you see it all
You hung the stars and you move the sea
And still you know me