Guest blogger Mariko Kisada Kinikin, a member of the A Nun’s Life community, writes the final in a series of three blog posts on “Road Trip Retreat.” We invite you to journey along with Mariko and consider the “road trip” retreats and landmarks of your life.

Part 3 – Bugs and Footprints

I knew there would be bugs up North, so I made sure my camping hammock had a mosquito net and preset straps for super fast setup. Even with my express setup, I was still swarmed by crazy hungry killer zombie mosquitoes during those two minutes of frantic setup. I’d quickly fling myself into the hammock and zip up the mosquito net, kill the three that made it in with me, and settle down for the night.

Road Trip

But this particular night, I eventually got bit from below. Mosquitoes were actually biting me through the hammock fabric onto the bottom of my legs. I wiggled around to try and put my blanket on the bottom of the hammock to protect my backside. Not completely thrilled with my result, I decided to flip on the headlamp and reposition the blanket one more time.

I was super repulsed. There were hundreds, maybe thousands of mosquitoes outside on my mosquito net. I didn’t see them until I had turned on the headlamp. I immediately freaked out, but then realized that I was in a cocoon of protection and that none of them were getting in (although all of them were trying) I lay there for a few minutes with the headlamp on, wondering if it was ok. If I went outside, surely I would look like the Animal Planet time-lapse of the mouse devoured by insects. But I lay there, and not a single one got into my hammock fortress. I wasn’t freaked out before, when I didn’t know they were there, only after when I shined the light.

It reminded me of that famous poem, “Footprints”, when the man realizes that Jesus was carrying him during the toughest times. Although I didn’t realize it, I was completely protected. How many times have I been protected from hordes of crazy vampire mosquitoes—and worse—but I didn’t even know it because I didn’t turn on my light? How many times was Jesus carrying me, and I didn’t even realize it?

Nun Note: Be sure to check out Part 1: Philalaska and Part 2: Say It NOW in the Road Trip Retreat blog post series about Mariko’s journey home to Alaska.

We’d love to hear your reflections on this “road trip retreat” … what thoughts pop up for you? Any similar stories or aspirations?