Written on 7/30/2021
I met an old friend today. She’d come for Friday lunch at Covenant Living with wonderful musicians who have now come to live here. She recalled a Mother and Sons canoe trip I had led to the Boundary Waters (one of the 45 over the years) every June, just after school let out for the summer. “I’m not sure I did very well in our race back to the camp.” I said, “Well, you were by bow-man and my recollection is we won that one.” We had a good laugh.
Such a tiny snippet of memory that refreshed us both, recalling that week in the woods with our little motley team of five or six pairs of paddlers who had traveled the portage paths and the route of lakes that had been worked out by the Voyageurs coming to trade for furs back in the 1600’s, at the same time of the Pilgrims’ landing and living on America’s Atlantic coast.
Around the campfire, we talked of that history. We talked too, of faith. We prayed, and came close in our lives. My bow-man was one of the mothers who had brought her son to experience the woods of the North Country together along with other mothers who had brought sons for the same experience.
We imagined Jesus, walking on the water, coming to meet us in that quiet world.
The canoes and paddles of our days on the water, tested our mettle and challenged us to relive the experience of the Voyageurs. But, more importantly, the woods, and the water, the centuries-worn paths and the packs and canoes on our backs challenged us with the same exertion and effort that had faced the French voyageurs three or four hundred years ago.
We all came out of the woods and off the lakes different than when we went in. We had worked together. We had appreciated each other and trusted each other – especially the mothers and sons. We felt differently about the church that had taken us there, and the Lord of the church and the world that met all of us personally and stirred our faith in Jesus, who had invited us to come on that journey with Him. And indeed on the journey of our whole lives. Because we learned we weren’t sufficient to ourselves.
We needed Jesus the encourager. Jesus the challenger. Jesus the leader. Jesus the Savior. And besides that, the Great Friend, and lover of our souls.
It was the church as Beloved Community that invited us to experience Jesus in these different ways. Not just in church, but out on the road of life. In the prickly challenges of relationships under stress – paddling or portaging our canoes together. Bearing heavy loads. And, at the same time drinking in the staggering beauty of God’s wonderful world, made for us. Given to us for the deepening of our understanding and the challenge to live by faith.
And now, 30 or 40 years later, two of us remembered how it had been, and what we had learned for life. Sweet memory. Enriching recollection, even now, of where we are, and how we were led, and what it means to be part of the beloved community that is the Body of Christ in this world.
All of our life is journeys with the One who loves us the most. And gave His life on the cross so we could have life, surrounded and strengthened by His love.
Bless you, dear friends from the road!
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
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ARTHUR ROUNER MINISTRIES