It was November 1977. At seventeen years old, I was one of the experienced elders in our Boy Scout troop. Several of us had joined the troop about the same time back when we were eleven years old. We had grown up together in scouting. We had camped on just about every mountain from Georgia to Virginia and weathered every storm Mother Nature could whip up. We had seen it all and were confident in our abilities to survive and overcome any obstacle.
A few of us decided to organize our own separate group, made up of the most experienced campers. We called the group the Twins Peaks Rangers, named after Crowders and Kings Mountain in Gaston County where we did most of our camping. Only the elite were invited to be a part of our special camping fraternity. We were the Seal Team Six of campers. We were tough, smart and experienced. We had seen it all.
In November 1977, we took a weekend camping trip up to the Linville Falls area. It had been an unusually warm fall, and even though the forecast indicated rain was possible with lows in the upper 30s, I was confident we would be okay. Remember, I was tough, smart and experienced.
When we arrived at our campsite, I decided to use my new tent that night. It was the latest technology in tents and very simple to set up. That night, I crawled into my goose down sleeping bag in my new, state of the art tent, and snuggled in for a good rest. About 2 am, I began hearing some rain hitting the roof of my tent. I could see my breath as I breathed in the cold air outside my sleeping bag. No worries. I was tough, smart and experienced.
At 4:30 am, I woke up to something cold touching the back of my head. I quickly realized that my tent was full of cold rainwater, and I was literally floating in my sleeping bag. I scrambled to stand up and get out of my tent, but it was too late. Everything I owned was completely soaked, including the clothes on my back.
How did this happen? I was tough, smart and experienced. Well, maybe tough and experienced, but not very smart. Two out of three ain’t bad? It seems the Seal Team Six leader forgot to waterproof his new tent. And now it was 38 degrees, the rain had stopped, and the skies had cleared, but the damage was done. I was soaking wet.
For the next two hours, I did everything I could to keep from freezing to death. I have never been so miserable in my life. Just before 7 am, the sun came up over the horizon. I was so thankful to see the sun! The light from the sun was so warm, it removed the chill and helped me to slowly dry out.
It has been more than 40 years since I experienced that cold, wet, miserable night. But to this day, whenever I see a sunrise, it reminds me of the thankfulness I felt that morning near Linville Falls. How unfortunate it is that we reserve our true thankfulness for the magical and magnificent things of life. We are thankful when we see the miracle of healing or the birth of a new baby or the salvation of a lost soul. But what about the ordinary days? After all, the majority of life is made up of the ordinary days.
What about the small blessings from God each day that we completely ignore? Without them life would be miserable. The sun comes up every day, but I never really noticed it and appreciated its light and warmth until I needed it the most. Maybe it’s time we stopped reserving our thankfulness for one day per year or for the supernatural events of life. Maybe we should be thankful even for those repetitive blessings each day. Without them, life would be cold, dark and miserable.