A Mountain Creek at Wallowa Lake

We walked out the back door of our assembly room, into absolute wilderness. To the right was the clearing where we stayed in our six yurts ("cabins" to me) and we followed-the-leader, across a small stream, walking on safe planks about two feet long. Careful, I thought, because my balance is not-so-good, and I really don't want to get my feet wet in a 5-inch-deep crick. They'd laugh at my ineptness. Pretty little stream, I thought, wonder where it goes? Crooked, only a foot wide, wandering slowly along. Our trail was cut through tall grass, easy to follow and it was quite light ahead, we couldn't possibly get lost. I knew this camp had boundaries, possibly marked with wire.

Crooked trail wandered, left the crick, and we saw two tipis (you call 'em teepees) and when we went to them we naturally wanted to go in. Twice as tall as me, and later I learned 20 feet wide, our entrance to the nearest one was blocked by two deer. They watched us and just looked questioningly "Do you really want to come into our house? Best you walk around and don't bother us." So we said hello, walked around their home shelter, back to the clearing with stones in a circle for the night campfire.

We walked sometimes beside the crick, and pretty soon it was too wide to walk back across. Sometimes it was sticky and muddy, sometimes clear and rocky. But when I went back to the first planks, I stuck my hand in and it was COLD! Too icy for wading like I'd done at home in Virginia years ago, and we learned of course that it came from the mountains. Right through the Retreat Center driveway in some spots and formed a ford which cars had to cross. Impossible, as swift as it came, to divert.

Narrow at first where we crossed it, it was my life. Easy to deal with, easy as a child to see life's problems cross-able and forgettable as we left it behind like yesterday. It curved around to where somebody had placed small rocks, but the rocks were easily washed away and the small pond which might have been simply disappeared and the crick like a child's life flowed on undeterred. Pretty soon there was a large rock dam, and there was a large pond for throwing sticks in. Sticks lodged in the rocks and made the pond large. And it was deep! Would have been hard to wade it with its speedy flowing water but soon the water overcame the sticks and flowed. That's life--the unsurmountable problems may disappear, right over the rock dams that we build. And if we don't keep working, the debris will be impossible to overcome.

In the middle was a huge flat rock; some little boy could jump across the water and stand triumphant to survey the world. For a little while--but would he be able to jump across or back to survive? Or would he stand there for rescue? Or would he jump in to get all wet and muddy with his problems? And how would he affect the other kids? Would he dare them to jump, or would he caution them to be careful, or not try at all?

There were other obstacles in that crick--a wobbly log to cross, a spot where the water spread out through the grass which made a spongy marsh that would look safe but would need insulation from the wet. It had spread so far, and was still pretty swift moving that no person would walk across without extra care.

So I look back at my life. There were turns and obstacles, never predictable and not easy to correct. As the stream flows on and disappears into uncharted territory, it leaves behind a new and different environment for the world.

Just as it should be.

A Yarn About Red Yarn

Way back in the 1970's a skein of red yarn rested in a ten-cent store (remember them?) in downtown Richmond, Virginia. Waiting for some nice creative lady to buy it.

The nice lady came in, bought several skeins of yarn, all colors. Red was happy, because she knew she would soon make someone else happy with a new garment or afghan. Nice lady wound the skeins into balls, nice and loose because it was real wool, and used most of the red. But some was left--not enough to make even a sweater for a little kid--so Red was put into the box of unneeded yarn with others and being sorted through several times was soon tangled and seemingly unusable.

Years passed. Nice lady had lots of spare time--she crocheted, knitted, sewed, made dolls and needlepoint pillows and embroidered doilies. Yarn was sorted through, discarded, given away, and Red just sat there waiting to be made into something wonderful.

The nice lady, living with her sisters, died, and a granddaughter cleared out the house. It was a whole new century, and bags of yarn, thread, fabric, patterns were collected and given to a church. Another lady looked at the tablesful and sorted through everything. She did not throw anything away--she did her best to see that everything was available to any other nice ladies to use.

And still Red sat there, waiting. Too small to be a child's garment, too bright-colored to be a prayer shawl, Red felt unuseful.

Finally after years of neglect, Red was made by a new nice lady in a needlework circle into a crocheted blanket--maybe only large enough we thought for a doll bed. But Red was happy to be sent to a friend-child in far-away Ecuador who needed God's healing and help.

How many nice ladies does it take to make a small prayer shawl for a child? In this case, at least 6 or 7. And now a whole church knows that Abby needs prayers and healing.

And we will all think of and pray for Abby. All because of some nice ladies!