Saturday, February 16, 2008

Pastor Ponder Ponders Pastoring While on the Trail

The Hunstville (AL) Times of 15 February 2008 has a profile of a hiker written by Kay Campbell with the headline "Dense forest trek also provided experience to examine life's path." Campbell describes the experience of Pastor Luke Ponder on a month-long sabbatical from the First Presbyterian Church during which he took a lengthy hike on the Virginia portion of the Appalachian Trail "last fall."

Inspired by Bill Irwin's "Blind Courage" hike, Ponder saw no people for the first 10 days of his hike, but continued on thinking, reflecting, pondering, and meditating.
"The trail itself became a kind of metaphor for the church universal - a path lovingly maintained by volunteers over generations for the feet of others they'd never know.

"But the main lesson Ponder learned on the trail is that a person needs company."
He found one in an abandoned puppy that he brought home from the Trail with him. So he had a bright spot on his hike despite earlier difficulties:
"Neither of his two cell phones could pick up a signal for a conversation with his sister or other friends. The grandeur of the old-growth forest had become oppressive. The startling brightness of odd mushrooms along the way were a monotonous distraction. Trail markers showed him that his pace wouldn't have made a turtle pant."

UPDATE: Story also appears in the 23 February 2008 Winston-Salem Journal under the headline "Sabbatical on the AT shows need for others" as a Religion News Service story

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