A Conduit of Peace

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Summer in the Burkholder household brought expectations of camping trips complete with totes of snacks, swimming until our entire bodies crinkled and wrinkled, Mom’s hidden bags of Twizzlers, burgers dripping grease down into the flames, kayaking around the lake with bags of chips in our laps, foil packets of potatoes steaming on the coals, and no-cap-limits on soda until we fell, exhausted and sugar-highed out, into chairs around the fire, just in time to watch logs get piled on for dinnertime grilling. 

When my family went camping, we stayed for a minimum of four days and three nights and we always traveled to the same spot, a little 40-site campground, nestled in bare woods, right next to a natural glacial lake. It was the kind of family campground that had a no liquor policy and held Sunday morning church services on the lake. 

In my earliest camping memories, we tent-camped with sleeping bags, eventually adding air mattresses to the mix and finally graduating to a pop-up camper with colorful lights strung around the canopy. But in all of those memories, two things stayed the same: we always went with a large group of families, usually relatives, and we always made all of our food over the fire, topped off with even more soda and Capri Suns. 

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And when it got close to midnight, one of the uncles would stand up, stretch, and say, “I think it’s about time for steak.” So one steak was grilled slowly over low, nighttime coals and then cut into small chunks that got passed around the circle, just a small bite for everyone, enough to wet the appetite for the next dinner, still 20 hours away. 

This past weekend, my sister and her hubs drove all the way down to middle Tennessee from Northern Indiana to meet J and me at a Tennessee state park campground. We made our childhood memories proud with enough snacks to last a month, roaring fires, and an ungodly amount of bacon. 

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We had a blast. We hiked, sat around the fire, grilled a lot of food, eavesdropped on a wedding ceremony (seriously), and spent hours catching up on life. And in the midst of it, I found peace and clarity in allowing myself to sit still, distractions aside. For 48 hours, I almost forgot that the struggles and challenges and stresses of life back in Nashville existed. 

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J and I found ourselves asking, how do we get this, this pure feeling of peace, all the time? Because in the woods, our souls stilled, emptying themselves of the grime and fog that built up, heavier each day, from too many days spent drowning in nonstop, nonsense busyness. Then, emptied completely, we saw clearly, again, as if for the first time.  

We’re heading up to Northern Indiana (my hometown) tomorrow for a long weekend to celebrate a sweet cousin of mine getting hitched. I cannot wait. Because it’s there, with wide open fields, cups of fresh apple cider, trees waving orange and red and yellow that I imagine I’ll snag at the coattails of serene peace once again.

May you find your own conduit of peace this week and cling to it tightly when all else threatens to pull you under.