There's something special about being invited to something, isn't there? I mean, I don't know about you but when I receive an invitation in the mail - particularly - there's a sense of excitement that comes over me. Now, that could be largely due to the fact that hey, snail mail is going the way of the dodo, buffalo, and various other sadly extinct creatures. It's exciting not just to get a letter, but to be invited to be part of something.
It's not just letters, though. In the middle of summer, I get excited also by invitations to come and see the latest blockbuster. Weeks after the movie, if you came and asked me not about the plot of the movie and what I thought about it, but about the last movie I had seen in theaters, I would probably say I saw _________________ with ____________.
Seeing the movie becomes memorable because of who I saw it with. The movie could have totally stunk, but I'll remember that I saw it with my friends, family, or wife.
And what I think this shows us is that, to a large degree, there's a communal element to inviting. At the start of His earthly ministry, Jesus went around calling each of His disciples, who in turn - according to the Gospel of John - encouraged one another to "come and see" the Christ, the Messiah. And one by one, as they encountered Jesus, they began to seek to understand what He was all about. But that wouldn't have happened if they weren't willing to drop their nets and whatever they were doing, and follow Jesus.
to come and see.
In those few words, one can understand that there is a communal element to inviting - to becoming a part of something and doing something greater as a result. It means doing or going somewhere different from where one is now (the word 'come') and accomplishing something ("see"). That can even be something as small as seeing a movie together.
This past week, I was privileged enough to get a chance to "go and see" what my sister, Amy, has been up to these past weeks as she begins to conclude her trek along the Pennsylvania stretch of the Appalachian trail to raise funds and awareness for Progeria research. Amy had hoped that this would be something others would get a taste for - to come and see - so she might pass the baton or share the flame (which-ever metaphor you like) of this cause. As it's nearing the end of her time, it's been a real privilege to see how many people have come out in support of Nathan and Bennett, this cause, and Amy's Hike.
Amy's hope in a sense is both an invitation, and a challenge:
Specifically, Will we give wings of hope to these two boys? To all the children diagnosed with this disease?
What would we put down our nets for, or cross mountains for?
Will we invite others along the journey, even if it were to become rocky or dangerous?
Will we carry the torch, even when there are no more mountains to cross?
As Amy's hike comes to a close, what a privilege it was to be able to go and see what she is doing on a daily basis and to be a part of her calling. But what a greater privilege to each of us to have an open invitation on the table: to follow our Lord's call and to do something greater even after her miles have reached their end.
Feel free to check out video from the day hike here:
Hike4Hope: A Day Hike from Kevin Ruhf on Vimeo.
Please note, if you're using some kind of mobile device (i.e., phone/tablet, etc.) and are having trouble viewing the above video on this site, click or tap the link "Hike4Hope: a day hike" which should take you directly to the video on Vimeo. There's been a few folks saying they weren't able to watch on their phones, but the link appears to be working on the computer. :)
-Kevin J. Ruhf
(Amy's Brother...and don't worry, I got permission to write!)
Saturday, June 28, 2014
The best laid plans of mice and men,
oft go awry
And leave us naught but grief and pain
For promised joy
Mark and I left camp around 9. We descended into Little Gap crossing several boulder fields in the process. The ascent on the opposite side was over smaller rocks, which are more troublesome for my feet. We reached the ridge line and enjoyed 360 degree views of Palmerton and the surrounding area for several miles. Continuing on, we traveled on a grassy road through the Superfund project site on Blue Mountain. It was amazing to me how much the vegetation is still being impacted by the Zinc pollution. Grasses are growing and small shrubs, but the trees are all dead. As we turned the corner of the mountain, we observed a spectacular view of the Lehigh River 1500 ft below. We walked on and the trail became rocky once more. We were now approaching the bald faced descent into the Lehigh Gap! We crossed 3 or 4 boulder fields and came to the crest of the mountain. We climbed up the boulders and found ourselves faced with an extremely steep descent. It was difficult to see where we needed to go. I stowed my poles and we looked to see where the blazes were leading us. We dropped about 20 ft and then were faced with a problem. We were on a cliff and could not see how to get to the next place that offered level terrain. The drop was approximately 20-25 ft, but a misplaced hand or foot resulting in a fall would cause at the very least a broken leg or two, and at worst... well, let's not think too much on that... Mark had the idea to lower our packs by rope and see if we could figure out a way down without being hampered by the extra 40lbs that we were both carrying. I found a blaze to the side of where we were standing. There was a rock that provided a decent enough hand hold, but it took a few moments before I found a good foothold. I'm not really much of a rock climber, and am not all that keen on heights, but what choice did we have? We took it slow, moving one hand and one foot at a time, making sure that we were stable before making the next move, and miraculously, we reached the next plateau. From there, we had a few other instances that required some rock climbing skills, but nothing as extreme as that vertical rock face. I had known the descent into the Lehigh Gap would be difficult, but I never Imagined that it would require scaling down 25ft of vertical rock! I was so glad to have Mark with me!
We finished our descent into the Lehigh Gap and found Scott and Anne waiting for us. My feet were on fire from all of the rocks that we traversed! Not to mention my legs and arms that were beginning to become stiff from the climbing escapade... Anne and Scott treated us to dinner in town and then Scott and I returned to the west side of the Lehigh Gap. We traveled uphill for about half a mile, found a campsite and began settling in for the night. We made a small campfire and enjoyed a few snickers bars and good conversation before heading to bed around 10pm. That night, I decided that I would need to come off for a day or so to tend to my feet, which now hurt with every step.
We woke on Tuesday morning early and began to climb Blue Mountain again. It was cloudy, and threatened to rain. Our plan was to take the North Trail which goes right over the Lehigh Tunnel of the turnpike and offers some spectacular views. When we reached our first overlook at Devil's Pulpit, we felt our first raindrops. Within a few minutes it was raining steadily, and after a few moments more, we heard some thunder. We knew that we would be traveling on an open ridge-line for several miles and had to decide whether to turn back or risk being stuck on a ridge in the middle of a thunderstorm. We decided to turn back. It was only two miles to the bottom of the mountain, and we were able to communicate our new location to Denise who would be picking us up. We reached the bottom of the mountain in relatively short order, careful not to slip on the wet rocks, and awaited her arrival. By the time we reached the bottom, the clouds had cleared and the sun was shining. It turned out to be a very pleasant morning and as much as it killed me to have given up so soon because of the weather, I think it was the right decision to make. Thunderstorms often times hang on the mountains or along the rivers, and we had both to contend with...
Denise dropped me at Kim and Ricky's home in Hellertown where I planned to take a day off before returning to the trail. The blister on my second toe had now become pretty painful and I was really starting to worry about infection. I decided to try and treat it topically on Tuesday night, resigning myself to seek more advanced medical attention if it did not improve with conservative treatment in the next 12 hours. That night, the nail detached form the bed and in the morning, I lost it completely. Once I lost the nail, it was clear that the infection was more significant than I had thought. I drove to an urgent care center in Hellertown and filled a prescription for antibiotics.