Last week's article described the first days of my trip to North Dakota where my friend Sally and I visited Marti on her ranch. I ended by describing our horseback ride through the mountainous area, our destination to see Teddy Roosevelt's homestead, remotely tucked away and marked only by historical signs set there by state workers. We were told by Candy, Marti's friend and our guide, that it was there Roosevelt learned about life and prepared for his presidency ahead. I could see how, so serene and majestic was the land.
That morning had started when I read Romans 1. Not coincidentally, Paul's words spoke to me: "Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can't see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being."
It's easy to do so at such a quiet retreat, I told myself.
The air is damp and cool and the sky, overcast. Yesterday Marti, Sally and I spent the morning talking about life and how we fit into God's plan. I'm not sure we figured it out, but we felt better (and definitely closer) after sharing our hearts' desires and disappointments. Mid-afternoon we donned our outdoor clothes to help Marti with some out-of-control weeds surrounding her out-buildings.
We should have made a video.
Each of us had an assignment.
"I'll weed eat."
"I'll spray weed killer."
"I'll clip limbs."
We talked a big talk. Conversation soon changed to "How do you start this weed eater?" "Where's the gas for it?" "Is additive already mixed in that little tank thingy?" "I don't have my glasses on. Can anyone read the directions on how much weed killer to add?" "My arthritis is acting up. Can anyone open this lid?" Our grandiose ideas fell short of actual production, but we did laugh a lot. And we actually killed a few weeds in the process.
Yesterday was our last full day here. Marti's friend Sam had arranged for us to take an airplane ride in his nephew's four-seater. By simply moving a few bales of alfalfa, a landing strip had been created. We were assured this 1964 plane was safer than modern-day jets and trusted no one was out to kill us. "Ignore the bumps," our young pilot instructed. "When the rocks below heat up, it causes the air to act a little jumpy." Yeah, just like my stomach, I said to myself.
The flight was thrilling and the view, magnificent. I found myself speaking into my headset: "How could God possibly think up all of this?" It was obvious I was to see His Word come alive: "eternal power... and the mystery of his divine being."
We were saddened to pack up and head home to the hustle and bustle of our homes, knowing our lives there would not afford us the same degree of serenity. In the meantime, though, we would be forever grateful for this special time, this quiet retreat.