|Every twig. Too bad a picture can't capture the wind. There is even frost on Francis's beard|
Who knew the grain of the wood on the clothesline could be so fascinating...?
And, as the Right Coast prepares for a major blizzard, our weather forecast has changed dramatically in the last 24 hours --from more of the above freezing slightly cloudy days and freezing ice-making nights to high winds and snow over the weekend. We are in a winter storm watch due to a pressure system suddenly building up over Colorado.
I hope and pray we get the snow. We should have a foot of the stuff around --and we have near naked ground with patches of crud snow and ice.
It does seem as though the rough weather always comes the second weekend of the month. It is always when I am scheduled to go to Cherry Creek that something extreme happens --super cold air, snow --I got snowed out in January, frozen out in December --fortunately, in December I was able to make the Sunday up by going down on Christmas. January just got cancelled. I don't want to do that again....
Every church here is different --having a different character. Some are joyful, some quiet, some peaceful, some wonderfully chaotic with children running every where... Cherry Creek is all of the above, layered with the seeds of wildness. Yes, it is remote --yes it is a challenge to get to --but several of the churches I serve are that way. Yes it has power (some churches don't), but it has no running water --except for the Creek, which, because we've had no snow or rain, is nearly dry....
Cherry Creek has horses roaming around town (about thirty houses) --it is surrounded by hills, and all roads in the area lead to the confluence of the Cheyenne River and Cherry Creek. The conservative Mennonites have a church and small grade school there --the Mormons have a building and graveyard there. The People are grateful for their presence, and will except their prayers and food and songs. But the shadows and ghosts of the ancestors walk through town, encouraging the horses to ignore the fences, inspiring the boys to grow their hair long and play along the Creek. The Drum group is the keeper of all the oldest songs that every other place forgot, and now they come here to listen and learn. The People know they are descendants of leaders and survivors.
It is also where drugs enter the Reservation --brought in by the back roads that are a web in the hills and creeks, connecting one hidden place to another. The FBI frequently roam the six streets --at night with their high beam and search lights piercing an unimaginable depth of dark. The coyotes run like wolves in packs around and through town, looking for the small and lost and weak. Life is precious. And dangerous. And wild.
And when a storm hits, life is isolated --on its own.
The Episcopal Church has had a presence in Cherry Creek for a very long time. The first church, a wooden structure on the outskirts of town, burned down about 15 years ago. That is when the cement brick structure that was the parish hall that served as the largest gathering place for the whole town began to serve as the church. Since then, a large community hall has been built at the other end of the road. It is three times the size of the church building, and can actually hold the community for funerals and mid-winter powwows.
The cement block once parish hall --now church building has a wood stove and electric lights.... So, in the extreme weather, we can bring the temperature up inside the building to about 40 degrees. If we are lucky, and if you stand by the stove. Somebody goes down the night before, builds a fire, comes back and re-stokes it for the night, and then again early in the morning. I take some portable propane heaters and set them up in the opposite corner of the room from the wood stove --behind the altar. I wear my good-to-twenty-below-boots so I don't freeze. I usually put my stole over my winter jacket and do much of the service with my gloves on.
And I love it. The children love to sing, and always have a song for us. The little ones run and jump during the service, and remind me what it important, and to do that and only that. The elders are patient and thankful --their life time of losses either discarded because they are too tired to carry them, or evident in their shoulders --burdens of love.
There is never any confusion about eating the Bread of Life --hand after hand after hand arrayed in eagerness --laughter and encouragement when a child wants more.
I always come face to face with the risen Christ when I am in Cherry Creek. Always.
At prayer this morning (beginning at Mark 9:2)
Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus.He did not know what to say, for they were terrified.... I resemble that remark. More often than I care to count here. But, I have the --I don't know what to call it --faith (?) to know that every where I look, there is "only Jesus." Only. Jesus. In the wildness, in the horses, in the children, in the ghosts, in the coyotes --and given the chance and a little patience, probably in the FBI agents as well...
Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified.
Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.
And, God willing, in the snow and wind.