As a pastor of a church along the Pacific Crest Trail I’ve had some great opportunities to meet people from all over the world. The church is actively engaged in trail-angeling, providing food, power, wifi, a bathroom, and a place to pitch a tent for any hiker in need of such goodness. I dig meeting the thru-hikers who God brings into my life. All their stories are great, because, well, honestly, every life story is great!
The other day I heard one of the greatest hiker stories yet. Big Spoon and Hands (those are their trail names) made the church their home away from home for a couple nights while making future arrangements. What impressed me so much about their story is that they got married while on the trail. I know. Cool, right? What’s more is that prior to getting on the trail they didn’t know each other — never met. They began their north bound walk from Mexico to Canada not knowing the other person even existed and along the way they discovered their other half. After meeting on the trail they got to know each other and decided getting married was the right thing to do. I don’t know the ins and outs of their views on marriage and I don’t know any intricate details about their personal motivations. I don’t have to.
What I do know is that we live in a world that, generally speaking, could care less about marriage. Sure, some may argue that marriage is highly valued in our culture, pointing to the pursuit by homosexual couples to be recognized as married. But that example only proves that we, as a people, don’t give two rips about marriage. Changing what something is doesn’t say, “hey! I value this thing… that I’m desperately trying alter and distort.” But rather declares a lack of appreciation and reverence for it.
But not these two remarkable hikers. They value their relationship to such an extent that they wanted nothing else than to enter into Holy Matrimony, that is, to grace their love for one another with the reality of living as husband and wife. To put it simply, and I don’t know if this is exactly how they’d say it although I think they’d agree with the statement, they wanted God in their relationship. So they got hitched! And did so while living out of back packs, walking 20+ miles a day in the wilderness. These blessed adventurers, full of integrity, took the time to acquire a marriage license and go through a civil ceremony (they plan on pulling out the stops with their families when they get back home) while removed from societal norms and cultural and familial expectations. A process that confirms their adventurous spirits, after all, marriage is the greatest of adventures!
It’s an amazing testimony to the blessed reality of marriage. You can leave behind society, you can abandon the need for a permanent shelter, you can live day-to-day with respect to drinking water and food, you can ditch deodorant and regular showers – basic hygiene – you can shed bills and jobs and all that comes with civilization, you can walk away from temporal security and all our supposed needs, but you cannot escape God and what is right according to the law written in our hearts.
Sure, Big Spoon and Hands could’ve kept hiking as individuals, enjoying each other’s company during the day and hooking up at night when the mood was right. I hear it happens all the time on the trail. But that’s the way of the world. Even in the bush, that’s the way of the world. They didn’t do that. Though the setting was ideal for the ever exciting sowing of wild oats, that would not do for these two and that’s all I’m trying to say. You can take God out of our world, out of our society’s definition marriage, but you can’t take Him out of our hearts. The believer is a believer and that means he or she lives a certain way, whether in the midst of “civilization” or in the wilderness. The environment does not change the fact that the Holy Spirit dwells in your heart, or doesn’t.
May God bless Big Spoon and Hands and all the faithful who still value the sanctity of marriage. Amen!
Want to be inspired by Big Spoon and Hands’ story? Good. Hands is a writer and has been blogging their journey. Visit her site, https://trailtraveler.wordpress.com/ and read till your heart’s content.