Not All Who Wander Are Lost
We embarked on our sixth journey in Cloud Nine over the weekend, feeling like pros, but we met a family who taught us a thing or two about wandering.Our destination for the last three days was a quiet spot in the Sam Houston National Forest. There were a lot of people camping this weekend; the cooler winter temperatures definitely draw people outdoors in Texas. We’re somewhat opposite from the rest of the country, who like to camp in the summertime. Not here. From June through the beginning of October, we’re either trapped indoors with our air conditioners running nonstop, or else floating in our swimming pools. Fall, winter and springtime offer the perfect opportunity for camping in the Lone Star State.
Our dog Charley is a magnet for all kinds of people. Kids love him, but he has a lot of conversation with adults also. We just never know who he’ll bring in to our lives on any given outing. When we camp, he has a lot of opportunities for socializing. This weekend, he introduced us to the Cloninger Family, a little group of folks who will stay on my heart for a while, I think.
We had just sat down with a glass of wine to watch the sun sink over the lake, when a friendly woman and her small daughter drove by in a golf cart. They stopped in front of our campsite – like I said, Charley is a guaranteed kid magnet. The little girl jumped out and asked if she could pet him, thus began our introduction to an amazing family.
I can’t do their story justice – you’ll have to read their blog for yourself – but the bare bones of it is this. Dave is retired Air Force, and so is Kelly. Between them they’ve put in close to 30 years of service in the military. They have 3 gorgeous, polite, and respectful children, and a rather moody cockapoo named Leo. Somewhere around last May, they decided to buy a fifth wheel and see the world. Or at least the United States. And they’ve been on an incredible journey ever since.
I wondered at first…so many things. How can 5 people stand to be with each other All.The.Time in a camper? How is this a “normal” life for their children? What about school? But the more I think about it, I can’t help but wonder if perhaps the Cloningers are the sane ones, and the rest of us are a little bit wacky for running on the daily/monthly/yearly hamster wheel of life.
As I got to know their story, I became aware that they were living out their faith. They are a Christian family, serving others and serving God everywhere they go. They have been from one corner of the country to the other, literally. Along the way, they volunteer where they feel led. The children, who are very diligently home-schooled, work hard alongside their parents, doing whatever needs to be done. And I mean *whatever*. As park hosts they scrub the public restrooms. They’ve worked raising homes with Habitat for Humanity. The list of their accomplishments makes me somewhat ashamed of my own quiet and somewhat self-centered existence.
Initially, I think that the people they meet are probably perplexed by them, and might even feel sorry for them. But more often than not, I think that they end up ministering to the people that cross their paths.
I can’t help but wonder what the world would be like if more families dropped their pursuit of comfort and materialism and went for gold like the Cloningers have. Man. What a world that would be. People helping people, loving each other, serving each other.
I think I hear a Peter, Paul and Mary song coming on. Or a commercial for the Peace Corps.
But seriously, I wish you could have met them. I hope that our paths will cross again someday. I have no doubt that God is orchestrating their entire journey, including bringing us to their campground this weekend. By the time we left this afternoon, I was truly sad to be going without having a cup of coffee with them and hearing more of their amazing story. We stopped as we drove by their camper, and got out and exchanged hugs and e-mail addresses. Charley was a perfect gentleman as he allowed the younger Cloningers to hug his neck. His work was done.
You can read more about the Cloninger’s journey on their blog. Godspeed, my friends. You are the hands and feet of Christ. It was a privilege to have met you.