Primitive Campsite 143

10690332_10152817353523179_3418368433098435931_n10151825_10152816951658179_5882763081100593828_nFall Break was upon us and five in-need-of-rest Samford females packed up and headed for Cheaha State Park for some camping, to be followed by a trip to Nashville.
{Let me preface this by saying, one out of the five of us has had substantial camping experience.
That one person not being myself.}

What you may not know about Cheaha State Park, as I did not, is that there are 4 levels of campsites:
Cabins, Improved Campsites, Semi-Primitive Campsites, and Primitive Campsites.
Now what we did not know about Cheaha is that the campsites are first come first serve.
We did not come first,
so we were kindly told upon arrival that a primitive campsite would be our only option for the duration of our stay.
Now what did not know is that “a primitive campsite is indicative of the lack of electricity, water, or bathrooms.”
They provide a stake in the ground with your campsite number and that is about the extent of it.

There was no cell service, so I went without a phone for an entire day.
There were no toilets, so I found a “squatter spot” behind a tree and used a wad of “borrowed”
toilet paper from a Chick-Fil-A.
There was no running water, so my teeth went unbrushed and my hair unwashed.
There was no kitchen, so we built a fire (with wet wood) and (eventually) cooked dinner over it,
whilst using a fly swatter as a spatula.
There was no home to sleep in, so I woke up the next morning to a rainstorm invading our tent
and seeping into the tip of my sleeping bag.

And you know what? I genuinely loved every second of it.
I love that because I wasn’t glued to my iPhone, I picked wildflowers while on our hike,
primarily because I stopped to take the time to notice them.
I love that I was elated to use a bathroom that I once would have considered subpar at Waffle House the next morning.
I love that my appearance was so irrelevant to the entire experience.
I love that I was more grateful for every subsequent meal,
because I remembered the time and effort that went into preparing dinner over a fire with inadequate wood or utensils.
I love that I missed waking up to the elements; the dew of the morning,
the sound of rain against our tent, and that striking early-morning light.

This whole experience drew me back to Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts, as I remembered her words: 
“I want to see beauty. In the ugly, in the sink, in the suffering,
in the daily, in all the days before I die, the moments before I sleep.”
I saw beauty again on this trip and it lead me to “Eucharisteo—thanksgiving— that which always precedes the miracle.” 
I recalled that Voskamp spoke the truth that the way I stay present to His presence is through thanksgiving.
Therefore, “we don’t have to change what we see. Only the way we see.”
My sight endured a much needed adjustment on this adventure,
“as I gave thanks for the seemingly microscopic, I made a place for God to grow within me.”
You see, hurry had been my daily reality this semester,
but “hurry always empties a soul” and “the busyness of life leaves little room for the source of life.”
So may we live with the awareness that slowing down and practicing thanksgiving is the way to make now a sanctuary.