A weekend lost in the woods, a heart lost in wilderness

Perpetual gray rises out of the steely waves into the landscape of shoreline and finally up into the darker gray of a stormy twilight sky. We slam through waves in the little boat. I look down at the hull, that 1950's blue-green that is a smidge too green for robin's egg, a smidge too blue for jade. Up in the gray sky, one pink finger points out of a palm of sunset orange.

We roll slowly into the dock, and an otter flips in front of our boat. We sneak closer, and she comes up hissing and blinking, sending us on our way back to the sandbank. The boat slides up with a sloosh. The children run around me as I sit staring blankly at the boat while Aaron fetches the van. We drive back to our campsite slow, windows open, cooling the sweaty curls under my hat brim, the sunburnt kids silent in the back as we melt into the night. Deer slide cagey, liquid, like ghosts in the pine line on the beach road.

We come home, and I see how the kids have relearned how to be kids after three days of dirt, woods, and no toys. The overwhelming unloading begins, life jackets and laundry hanging over the front porch rail, and more laundry, bedding, and dishes to be faced in the morning. The tent hangs over the children's fort waiting for the drying sun tomorrow, the army green sheeting slippery through fingers, reminiscent of last night's thunderstorms.

I feel like I absorbed the gray and I walk like a shadow in and out. Alone. I come home to Internal Review Board worries for both my studies, set to start in just a week. Pray God works it out. Feel tired asking. Please, God, this one thing. Can you fix it for me? Please tell me I'm not going to do nothing in South Carolina for my two-week trip. Cars that don't work, a truck that guzzles gas with each passing day the runner doesn't run.

Old memories come up unawares like bilge water in this familiar campground, memories that cut sharp and bleed long. Why make new friends? New camping partners. How long can it last, I wonder. 

How do I praise from this place? Learn from this place? Thrive. I don't just want to survive. I want these kids to see me vibrant again. I want the gray to wear off. Instead I just walk deeper into the steel gray water each day. I open up my hands and close my eyes. Please, God, show me mercy. All I can offer you today is a broken hallelujah jumbled with anxiety and tears.