Sunday, September 04, 2005

"I Did"

Tacoma! I’ll be there in a few hours, hopefully in time to attend Suzy and OJ’s church tonight. Kim has faithfully driven with me (and/or driven me) across the West. After the first long haul to South Dakota we were welcomed to a dear friend’s family place. Sometimes I only understand what God is saying in the scripture after I’ve experienced it. He talks about visiting the sick. I didn’t know what a refreshing, delightful thing it would be to be visited, until I was in the hospital and Oonagh came into the room. All of sudden I knew the word “succor”, and felt the beauty of the command. Hospitality is the same. My friend’s mother welcomed Kim and me generously, put us in beautiful rooms, tromped all around the barn and pastures with us, found the prettiest barn kittens for us to snuggle, steered us clear of the lama, showed us how the border collies work the sheep, lured the horses close, and feasted us with garden-grown tomatoes and homemade peach pie. Hospitality. My old desire to run a place of respite for tired believers resurfaced. Then it was on to the Black Hills, where we sought out three waterfalls and Kim introduced me to the joys of scrambling to their feet and washing our own there. (A few days later, on the side of Going-To-The-Sun road in Glacier National Park, she indulged in a full immersion. The boys on the other side of the road were impressed. I was too – we were on the continental divide and it might have been the coldest water available in the States in September!) Montana also welcomed us with a homemade dinner, courtesy of a fellow author and friend who calls Kalispell home. Bears played a part in our conversation, but much as she assured me the recent attack fulfilled the local quota of one-per-year, I was not assured and spent the next day hiking around Glacier and laboring against fear. Next time, I’m going to carry pepper spray! But fear… It seems fear can’t be solved by practical countermeasures. I knew this. Have learned this over the last four years. Fighting that demon leaves me tired as if I had been laboring. The Lord has been steadily sharpening my sword, then every once in a while exposing to me just where the still-unsharpened areas lay. Hmm. A few of them have to do with grizzlies and whether or not the Creator still has control of His creation. However, the struggle was worth it. Not only did I find His grace again, I saw a lake rimmed in a circle by jagged-topped peaks and fed by waterfalls from their heights. I discovered thin layers of rock melded together and tipped at a crazy angle, creating a vantage point jutting into Saint Mary’s Lake that gave me a view of a dozen mountains and the windswept blue water they surrounded. Yes, so worth the cost. I learned that the best way to save one’s joints when hiking downhill is not by walking, nor running, but “gazelle-ing” down the mountainside (a very apt Kim-word). I found that one of the most beautiful drives is leaving the park on its east and following the southern border – though I must add, it is fraught with dangers, specifically, cattle that think the road is their cowpath. I must stop being surprised when I find the things the Lord did. Yet, I love discovering Him all over again, just when I’d forgotten the sorts of stuff He thinks about. Rock layers are different colors. Streams slowly brush through the ground, revealing layer after layer, until huge gorges are created that combine short bursts of waterfall, deep swirling pools that look scooped out of the rock walls, and long beds of stones every color of the earth. I stood above one of these amazing things and absently muttered, “It almost looks like You did it on purpose.” To my shock He answered. “I did.”