NOTES FROM THE FIELD, with Tom Henry

Little bubbles of light began to bob around our camp as we approached the 5 o'clock (a.m.) hour. Each participant gathered the items they would need to take with them on the morning's hike... warm layers, journal, bible, pen, bowl, spoon, water bottles, and other necessities filled their packs by the light of their headlamps. With a mile hike and over 500 feet of elevation gain ahead, the group moved out of camp and onto the trail just after 5:30.

It was a bit of hard work on an empty stomach, but we arrived at the northern-most edge of Table Rock's summit just in time to settle-in before first light. Jesse and I had planned on having the group spend the entirety of the sunrise in quiet, loosely-structured, reflection... a time to soak in the beautiful beginning of the day from a truly magnificent perch. We hoped to create a space, from first light until the sun was fully in the sky, that would allow for rest and for stillness. I passed out a prompt for quiet reflection- a hymn by Thomas Ken called "Morning Hymn," which begins:

Awake, my soul, and with the sun
Thy daily stage of duty run;
Shake off dull sloth, and joyful rise,
To pay thy morning sacrifice.

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Even in the opening verse, the hymn lends itself to early morning reading or singing. And I love how it begins with a reminder that it is not only our bodies that we get ready in the morning but also that deeper part of ourselves- our souls.

As the colors began to fill the horizon, anticipation captured our attentions. We sat quietly and took it all in until the sun was fully up.

It is often difficult to still ourselves in this way during the course of our normal day to day lives. Yet, that stillness is where we often make discoveries about our identity, our purpose, and our true value. Later in the day, as we discussed the sunrise experience, one participant shared a profound discovery. To paraphrase, he said that all of the beauty and adventure of the weekend had been great, but the real discovery- the real powerful reminder- was the preciousness of the companionship that he experiences with his wife.

Sometimes we require a stillness, a retreat, to remember that which is most precious to us. I hope that whether it's through the wilderness or some other means, you also are able to retreat to a still place in order to have profound discoveries and valuable reminders of the dearest things in life.

You can barely see Dennis and Lori (in the right side of the frame) watching an incredible sunset from the summit of Table Rock on Sunday morning.

You can barely see Dennis and Lori (in the right side of the frame) watching an incredible sunset from the summit of Table Rock on Sunday morning.

Tom instructs a rope team comprised of Molly, Stephanie, Daniel, and Lionel (not pictured here) during their day of rock climbing and rappelling.

Tom instructs a rope team comprised of Molly, Stephanie, Daniel, and Lionel (not pictured here) during their day of rock climbing and rappelling.