Kevin Basil (signature)

(Not Quite) Roughing It

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Written by Basil on 07/8/2003 9:05 PM. Filed under:

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My vision of camping is rough. You hike out to a secluded forest, pitch a tent, build a fire, and rough it for a few days. There are no porta-potties. You have what you can carry with you or catch, kill or pick to eat. You might even make your own tent with rope and a tarp.

I went “camping” this past weekend, and it was not rough. We had running water nearby. There were toilets and a shower. There was a wash-basin. There were flat, finely-gravelled areas for pitching tents. There were large areas for fires, wreathed in metal, with grills for cooking. Had I known that camping was like this for most Americans, I would have camped a lot more all my life. Yes, I know this means I’m lazy. But I’m now looking forward to a life full of camping. And I think that can only be a good thing for me.

Camping, even in the lazified form I just described, necessarily means living a little closer to nature than usual. Perhaps it’s because, like most Westerners living now, I’m really more post-Romantic than post-Modern, but I think that getting closer to nature is more spiritual, if one is alert to spiritual reality. Perhaps this is an unexamined sentimentality that I continue to cherish, but I tend to think there is basically a Christian reason for thinking this.

Christos Yannaras, in The Freedom of Morality, talks about living eucharistically. Let me try an overly simplistic summary of his points on eucharistic living: More primitive peoples, such as nomadic and agrarian societies, live eucharistically because they are able to see the essential link between their work and their sustenance. A farmer grows wheat, which he cuts down and puts on his own table. In giving thanks (gr. eucharistia) for it, he has a very particular, tangible idea of how it is the fruit of his labor. When he prays with the church at the Divine Liturgy and gives a tithe of what his labor has produced, prayers about labor and the fruits of the earth have an immediate impact for him — which they do not for a technological society, often several steps removed from the source of our sustenance. For example, when I work, the fruits of my labor are sore legs and feet and a grumpy disposition at the end of the day. Then, every two weeks, money magically appears in my checking account. The connection between the two is abstract in the extreme. When I give my tithe, it is a slip of paper. It simply does not have the sense of eucharistic gift that an offering has for a farmer or a nomad.

So, camping involves a return, for a short amount of time, to a eucharistic style of life wherein giving thanks is much more concretely tied to our labor. Even if this only means, “I cut this firewood and built this fire. Thank you, O most holy Trinity, for this your gift of fire.”

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3 Responses to “(Not Quite) Roughing It”

  1. James Says:

    Mmm, fire good!

  2. Long-Haired Freak Says:

    You are joining the Navy and praising KOA at the same time? odd….

  3. basil Says:

    Long-haired Freak, you now see that my transformation into a patriotic American is complete. Join me, and together we can rule the galaxy!