hikers vs explorers (A post almost named “Steve Blummmer”)

There are two kinds of people in the world.  There are explorers and there are hikers. Many of us begin life as explorers.  We end up slowly becoming hikers.   I certainly fall into that pattern.  As a child, I was an explorer.  At this point in my life, I’m really more of a hiker.

An explorer is someone who heads out.  He is looking for something interesting.  His hope is that it’s something which is somehow new.  He runs the risk of getting lost.  He faces the challenges associated with covering new ground.

I am fortunate to have grown up with a family that loves to camp.  One of my favorite things to do was to just wander away from our site.  I disdained paths.  I would walk through pricker bushes and poison ivy patches.  I would jump over fallen trees and slip under boulders.

Sometimes I would be rewarded with a glimpse of the sort of wild-life that I probably would otherwise have missed.  A doe, a snake, a tremendous, regal falcon.

Often times I would discover these places: a beautiful clearing where the canopy overhead turned the sunlight into these refined, green beams.  A natural shelter where I might rest in the shades and just breathe for a while.  A tremendous, granled, unusual tree that seems just bursting with wisdom.

Of course, sometimes I’d be only rewarded with scratches or poison ivy.  I’m a guy with no sense of direction.  The mere fact that somehow I managed to avoid getting ridiculously lost is proof of God’s loving providence in my life.   And sometimes, there was really no little moment of “ahhh” at all.

But while those “ahhh” moments were wonderful, they weren’t the point.  When you go chasing after those “ahhh” moments they tend to run away from you.  I learned that early.  I just meandered, wandered even.  I was in the moment.  And it was wonderful.

These days, I hike.  I keep my clothes cleaner and my body free of rashes.  I make it back when I say I am going to.  Usually I know pretty much where I am.  The most important difference is hard to describe: I have a reason, a destination that I can put into words.  I am there to walk that path, to reach the destination.  I might have fun along the way.  But I would be willing to trade any of the little moments on that walk in exchange for achieving the goal of reaching the end of the trail.  It is not so with exploring.  The end isn’t the point at all.

I am not here to see that we should always go exploring and never hike.  I wouldn’t even go so far as to say that we shouldn’t “hike” in our experiences with God.

But we’ve become full-time hikers, in our relationships with him.  We operate in the domain of maps and compasses, not wonders and mysery.  And God is so much wonder and mystery.  We miss out when we do not take advantage of this facet of his nature.  We so rarely revel in his nature.  We so rarely explore and we so often hike.

I think this is why we’re called to be like children by Jesus.  Children are the true explorers.  What does this all mean, in terms of God?

We need to throw away the maps of our expectations, sometimes.  We need to drop our agendas, our goals.  We pray for people and we pray for things.  When is the last time we’ve prayed simply to be with God.  We read scripture to understand, we read to prove a point, we read because we’ve agreed to read x number of minutes a day… why can’t we just read with the understanding that we are reading the words of our maker with our maker?

(For those keeping track of such things, this is the first “mystery” post not in chronological order; this post goes after the one which ‘tries again’ at explaining what it is to dwell in mystery.)


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

One thought on “hikers vs explorers (A post almost named “Steve Blummmer”)”

  1. since the title alludes to my name, I must comment. Good post, it is a wonderful mystery of being in relationship with God. Not only does the thought of God blow our mind, but to have a relationship with Him: Big Bang of mystery explosion!


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