In just a couple of weeks, day camp would begin. As a youth pastor at a church in the San Francisco Bay area, the summer program was the most hectic time of the year for me. Added to this weight was the painful fact that Amy, a young single mother in our congregation, was losing her battle with breast cancer. It was too much. I was overwhelmed. I felt as though I just couldn’t breathe.

That evening I discovered that a program I was scheduled to attend the entire following day had been cancelled. With this unexpected gift of time, I decided to seek treatment.

Before the sun rose the next morning, I was on the road. By 9:00, I had reached the trailhead of the Cascades in the northern Sierras, a series of waterfalls dropping quickly and dramatically through a secluded canyon. Hiking in took another couple of hours.

When the distant din turned into a constant roar, I knew I had finally arrived at my destination. The sight and the sound seemed to chip away at the anxiety and pain. I located a spot on a huge fallen redwood near the water’s edge and released myself to nature’s spa. In a short time, I was fast asleep.

More than an hour later when I woke up, a deer just a couple feet away was cautiously sniffing in my direction. When I moved, she jumped away, but only for a few feet before the rich, green grass grabbed her attention, and she began to eat.

That day I hiked, I read, I prayed, I listened, I cried and I healed. I discovered what I had come for. I was refreshed, restored and renewed.

by Chaplain Ron Hyrchuk

March 27, 2008