April 26th

Today I hiked from Icewater Springs Shelter to Peck’s Corner Shelter, a distance of 7.2 miles. The terrain was very agreeable, and while there were plenty of uphills, they were mostly not too extreme and were interspersed with plenty of level ridge running and down hills.

The biggest hallmark of the Trail today was simply the views. There were several times I would be hiking along, only to suddenly be distracted by an opening in the trees to suddenly see the vista of the valleys before me. It was almost dangerously distracting in a way, as my attention would be suddenly jerked to the side, sometimes my brain forgetting to have my feet stop while I did so.

By far the best view was from Charlie’s Bunion, which was one of the best spots I’ve come across on the Trail thus far. Had I not been pressed to get the miles done today, I would have gladly stayed there for a few hours. It consisted of a short side trail that went out, hugging the cliff, until it reaches a point at the corner of the mountain, where a large boulder sits on the cliff. You can climb up onto the boulder for an almost 360 degree view. I simply had to stay and let it all soak in.

While hiking, I listened to the last two weeks messages from my home church, the Vineyard in Florence, Kentucky. Pastor Marc has been sharing on “Awakening Grace” as a follow up to the Easter message. I was particularly struck by a message he shared on grace in those moments when we feel hope is gone, focusing on the story of Mary Magdelene coming to prepare Jesus body for burial, only to find him missing. Marc then related the story of he and his wife going through the miscarriage of their child and experiencing grace in the midst of that suffering, even on into when they later successfully had a healthy second child. I sincerely appreciated his very honest and forthright sharing of their pain in doubt in those moments, as well as the healing they then went through. He then connected this to a time of ministry, inviting those who have passed through such moments to be able to minister in prayer to those who are in the midst of such moments of doubt. While I certainly can and did join in that prayer from a distance, it still hurt me to not be able to be there in person to join in those moments of prayer with the church. The next message then exacerbated this feeling. I must confess, I don’t immediately recall the core text of the message as well, but they were sharing as part of a baptism Sunday, which the church was also celebrating with an annual church wide potluck. I cannot begin to express how much I wish I could have been there to take part, and to bring some dessert or side dish. I love my home church. I will absolutely confess it is not perfect(what collection of humans ever is), and will readily admit that there have been multiple occasions that I’ve been frustrated with and disagreed with fellow members, but I live them all absolutely and miss celebrating, serving, and praying with them on a regular basis

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