There are three things that are too amazing for me,
four that I do not understand: the way of an eagle in the sky,
the way of a snake on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas,
and the way of a man with a maiden.
In early February, the light begins to change. Without much warning, the steel gray of deep winter gives way to intimations of a softer season ahead. Daylight lingers longer into the afternoon, and the warmth of the light reflecting off distant skyscrapers seems to battle the forbidding coldness of the moment. And in the late afternoon, when the sky is clear, the setting sun paints the western horizon in orange and reds, intimating that the cloistered winter months will soon be past.
This is the time when I begin to feel the draw of the hills and mountains of the country beyond the shores of this water-bound city. Though snow and ice still cover much of the surrounding land, I instinctively begin to plan to head out to the territory of the Appalachian Mountains and the trail that connects the twelve states between Georgia and Maine.
I am often asked why I leave the comforts of home to walk the many miles of the Appalachian Trail, and I suppose I have many reasons, but what I always come back to is the way the trail connects me to the mysteries of this life we have all fallen into. I may inhabit a world constructed by the hands of man, and I may marvel at all its complexity and brilliance, but the city of man with its activities and diversions is never enough.
Solomon attributes this longing to the way God made men and women, for while we live in the temporal, we yearn for things eternal (Ecclesiastes 3:11). When the Psalmist says, “The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled with grain; they shout for joy and sing” (Psalm 65:13), he sees the loving handprint of God in everything. So even though my feet are planted firmly on the hard ground of this world, my heart tells me that eternal inclinations buried deep within my soul urge me on to walk where “the hills are clothed with gladness” (Psalm 65:12).
—from Eric Kampmann's, Signposts