Every shelter has a logbook and at the Priest Shelter it is tradition to write a confession of your trail transgressions. They are really funny and we got a kick out of reading them aloud. Here is a good example: “Forgive me Father for I have sinned. My cat holes are rarely deep enough and once I may have just covered it with a rock. I have had thoughts of fornicating within the Tramily. Lastly, I have yellow blazed (by accident) 13 miles of Trail but I didn’t miss anything important.” I love that she qualified that last one. I should also explain that cat holes are supposed to be at least 6 inches deep to adequately bury your waste, a Tramily is your group of hikers and “yellow blazing” is skipping sections of the Trail via car. That last one makes me shudder.
The hike today was a crusher. We had a 4 mile climb right out of camp and then another 18 more with some steep but short climbs. My new shoes are trashed already and I’ve had them for only about 400 miles since Damascus. I’m trying to push them to Harpers Ferry but I don’t think they are going to make it. I am not going to mess with my feet so if they aren’t feeling better tomorrow then I am ordering another pair as soon as possible.
I spent a good part of the hike listening to Krista Tippet’s podcast On Being. I’ve been a big fan of hers since she first started with her show on NPR called Speaking of Faith. Her topics are always on point and she has the most interesting guests. My favorite one today was with poet Wendell Berry and her former professor Ellen Davis. Wendell shared this beautiful poem called “The Peace of Wild Things” and I wanted to share it with you:
When despair for the world grows in me
And I wake in the night at the least sound
In fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be
I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water
And the great heron feeds
I come into the peace of wild things
Who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief
I come into the presence of still water
And I feel above me the day blind stars
Waiting with their light
For a time I rest in the grace of the world
And am free
Listen to Wendell read it here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/on-being-with-krista-tippett/id150892556?i=1000471699134
It is such a beautiful poem and really moves me. I’ve always found perfect solace in the woods. When I was a child I spent all day running around the trails, lakes and streams near our homes. I built forts with friends and we created our own perfect worlds out there in the woods. As an adult I’ve retreated here during times of crisis and also celebrated the good times around campfires with dear friends. These natural places are where I belong. Thank you Wendell for expressing these truths so elegantly.