It was a good tent. If memory serves correct we bought it when Clark was a baby, if not a bit earlier. This means it is somewhere around 20 years old. It is a dome tent that advertisers claimed would accommodate four, but soon after Aaron entered the picture we realized it was going to be too small for all four of us to sleep in comfortably. Still, we used it camping through the years because it was easy to set up. As the boys grew larger and longer we bought a second tent to allow for extra space and parental privacy.
We have other tents: small backpacking tents, a newer dome tent, and a large cabin tent (sleeps six!), but this one old tent has staying power. In the last few years I would throw this tent in the back of my car whenever I would go camping but was not planning to backpack. It has held up quite well on a foot of snow with temperatures in the single digits. It has been of great service along a stretch of lonely beach on Little Tybee. It was even of service last fall when we took the high school juniors and seniors camping (I think it was leaking then too). It was a good tent.
Amy used it last week when she headed up to the Great Smoky Mountains and camped for a few days all by herself. I was able to get away and join her for just one night, but had to head back the next day and leave the camping for her to carry on alone. She did great, but the last morning she awoke to rain pattering outside her tent and the dismal evidence that it was also inside the tent. It is a good thing it was her last day. She left the tent all alone at a dumpster; a rather ignoble end considering all that it has housed over twenty years. I would have at least said a few words over its remains; perhaps ceremonially pitched it one last time or at the very least held a moment of silence.
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:1, “For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” Life marches on. Children grown up. Parents grow old. Occupations, churches, and relationships change. It is the way of life. Our earthly tents – the ones we are born with as well as the ones we acquire – are but a moment.
And yet, in spite of my wife’s example (and I confess I am prone on occasion to heading down trails solitaire), we do not make this journey alone. There is much that does not matter about church – the inevitable hypocrisy; our messy lives; the politics and so on. What does matter is that we are bound up together in this sacred walk called life. Church matters greatly when you are having to navigate through failing health, struggling marriages, or the very stench of death. It matters when truth is relativised and you are not sure which way to turn. It matters to have others surrounding you in this great hike called life.
And what does the Lord require of us? “…to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
Tents – and houses, and cars, and clothes and everything else – are temporary. We have been created for eternity and how we walk with others makes a lifetime of a difference. I am so glad you have made a difference in my lifetime.