img_0121Because you demanded it, the Hiking Preacher is back!

Well, I don’t know if anyone demanded it, but here I am anyway. I have been so swamped with having a new baby, getting over sickness, having lots of family and friends visiting, and then Holy Week and Easter that I have had little time to write much of anything other than sermons.

But I’m looking at this like an Easter discipline to get back on the trails regularly and blog about my experiences. It’s a new day, Christ is risen, we are new creations, and all that. I ended up royally failing in my Lenten disciplines, mainly because once Grey was born, so many people brought food that I couldn’t pass up. So I caved, I admit, in order to show my gratitude for such wonderful food you all brought by. I don’t really regret it, and think God is merciful and slow to anger over such things. But why not try to continue the discipline by doing something positive and healthy during Easter?

img_0122Most priests take off the day or week after Easter. Not this year for me! Instead, I decided to start my Easter week with a hike on the Pine Mountain Trail. I was surprised by how eager I was to get back into the swing of things. I was out the door and on the trail pretty quickly, mainly because it was such a beautiful day.

Don’t you just love those days that smell like Easter? Everything is blooming, and so when I ride through FDR State Park with the windows of the Jeep, I got this overwhelming fragrance of nature’s beauty. If you haven’t made it into the woods in a while, do yourself a favor and at least just go sniff it!

I picked up on the trail where I left off, which was on the Long Leaf Loop, particularly on the north section on the Pool Trail, which is about 2 miles from the Fox Den Parking lot, past the Liberty Bell Pool, and over to the connection to the Mountain Creek trail.

img_0123It was just a lovely day and the hike was exactly what I needed. This trail has some easy hills to get over, and even a few rocks to climb at the Fox Den. As you can see in this post, I got some pictures of some really incredible trees.

I love walking by the Liberty Bell Pool, and am so thankful it’s functioning again. Tai took his first swimming lessons there, so now my connection to that historic pool is established.

I listened to a number of podcasts as I walked today, which I don’t usually do. Podcasts, in case you don’t know, are basically audio shows that you can download and listen to on an mp3 player. There are podcasts on every topic imaginable. You all may not know this, but I am a regular guest on a podcast called Tales From the Water Cooler, which reviews comic books. Feel free to give it a listen, but know that these are opinionated guys talking about comics, so tender ears beware. Most of the podcasts I listen to are comic book related, although I do listen to one podcast that comments on Sunday’s lessons in order to help preachers develop their sermons.

This Sunday’s Gospel is about dear ol’ Thomas, who gets the unfortunate moniker of “doubting Thomas.” Ultimately, he becomes “believing Thomas” but that hasn’t quite stuck yet. I’m interested to see what I come up with as I feel like I’ve preached a lot on Thomas in the past. What else is there to say? I guess God will have to surprise me again.

So the Hiking Priest is back on duty, grateful for a new day, resurrection, and great-smelling forests! Christ is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

Jeff+