Tales from the Mountain
Dick and Gail are friends from Trinity Heights and our boys were in Scouts together but the kids were off in college so, along with two other couples, the eight of us set off on a long weekend camping trip with a little hike thrown in – Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. It was February and the weather was perfect for hiking, wondrous scenery, great company, and a little adventure.
Just a little stiff and sore from the steep descent the family-style dinner at the ranch was a welcome repast to refuel our tired bodies. We slept well that night with babbling sounds from Bright Angel Creek flowing through the campground. For two days, we hiked to waterfalls, the Colorado River and enjoyed the sights and sounds 5,000 feet below the rim, but, sadly, the adventure had to come to an end and the day came to begin our ascent to the rim. We planned to hike about half-way, to Indian Gardens, spend the night and be at the rim in time for a nice breakfast at the lodge.
Sometime during the night it began to rain, though we slept through it and when I woke in the early morning light, I discovered we were in a small lake in our tent and the tent an island in a much larger pond…and it was still raining. We roused and started a light breakfast as we packed, squeezing as much water out as we could. Packs would be a bit heavier on the last few miles. Then a ranger came by with urgent news that the trail was being closed, there was flooding below us in the canyon, but we needed to get out now!
With that ‘encouragement,’ the climb began, the mud got deeper and slicker, the rain didn’t let up and then as we began the switch-back ascent of the cliffs we entered heavy fog. Then it got, well, just kinda weird. We heard the crashes and booms of rocks and boulders falling down but we couldn’t see a thing in the thick cloud we were hiking through. Just below the rim, the rain began turning white making the trail even slicker. At least we didn’t have to dodge any mule trains; hikers stand on the outside of the trail.
You didn’t want to stop and rest because you got instantly cold but our bags were gaining weight, our feet were cold, and not being able to see the rim made it seem like the never-ending hike. But, we did make the rim to the glorious sight of the lodge, a warm fire, dry clothes, and a hot meal.
Saturday, September 14, there was a special annual conference, this followed the special world-wide general conference last February, and there is yet, a Western Jurisdictional conference before the regular general conference in May 2020.
I am reminded of the hike out of the canyon – the never-ending, toe freezing, back breaking, steep-puddle-riddled-too narrow trail, wet, miserable hike. The challenges facing the denomination seem even more daunting. But the same approach we took to the hike is how we, at Lakeview, will approach this on-going denominational challenge.
Despite the frustration many of us feel, the work and ministry we are doing every day at Lakeview and the people whose lives are changed daily by the ministry, service, and caring work that YOU are doing both in the church and in your neighborhoods brings the light burning off the fog of confusion and drives away the cold and rain. We aren’t stopping, we aren’t letting the cold of denominational dissension cool the fire of the Holy Spirit!
Here’s the deal brothers and sisters; Jesus lives, the cross saves, God is present, the Holy Spirit is powerfully at work and you are the people of Lakeview called to be followers and disciples of Jesus. What I experience at Lakeview is the warmth of that fire in Bright Angel Lodge – the Holy Spirit active and at work, a belly full of warm, spiritual food, dry clothes of new life in Christ, and encouraged by the fellowship of friends.
~ Pastor John