Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Calm (emotionally) (09/13/07)
TITLE: The Whooping Crane
By Marty Wellington
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Yesterday I witnessed a miracle. It was a sacred moment in the routine of my every day. Inspiring. Unexpected. An act of worship.
The morning began like any other day. Chores. Breakfast. More chores. And then off for my regular ride to check fences and cattle. I left my beautiful bride of 30 years busy in the kitchen concocting one of her special recipes.
My horse was more anxious than usual. As we moved toward the back of the barn, a light mist stung my face, reminding me that winter was just around the corner. The skies bore leaden clouds, pregnant with moisture. As with any day, I admired the majesty of God’s creation and wondered what the rest of my day would bring. What adventures would meet me out among the sagebrush and the cottonwoods?
First priority was to head out to the river. Most of the herd enjoyed grazing near the river bank. I was concerned that the latest fall rains might cause flooding along the Cimarron and might endanger the cattle—my livelihood. God had called me to care for his creatures and I took that charge seriously.
My little gelding pranced through the mud. The four-mile trek cross country was a soggy one. As the mist turned to driving rain, coldness settled into my old bones. The feeling brought back memories of hundreds of cattle drives with visions of fry bread, clanking kettles, and sleeping on flea-infested bedrolls. I offered a quick prayer of thanks that tonight I’d be bedding down with my bride in our warm feather bed.
Approaching the river, I saw the herd huddling close together. Several found refuge under the stands of cottonwoods. Some just stood, welcoming the rain’s onslaught—their coats shimmering with moisture. I moved among them, up and down the river, counting their numbers, alert to any sickness. The calves were all accounted for and that was a relief.
On my last trip down river, something caught my attention out toward the river and I stopped to investigate. Through the driving rain, it was difficult to focus, but I squinted, concentrating on the rushing water. It was then I noticed the lanky form of a whooping crane, perched on the top of a sandbar. Despite the roar of the river around him, his stick-like leg was unshakable upon that miniature island.
Curious, I sat there watching him for the longest time. He was virtually immovable. My presence didn’t even concern him. I marveled at his strength, his resolve to hold on despite his circumstances.
A shiver ran down my spine, but this time it wasn’t the cold. It was God’s Spirit. I pulled off my soggy hat, lifted my face heavenward and savored His presence. I thanked Him for the crane and prayed for the strength to be like the crane—faithful, steadfast, peaceful in the midst of my circumstances no matter what might come my way.
My beautiful Elizabeth sat across the kitchen table from me. Tears formed in her aging blue eyes as she finished reading aloud from my journals.
“We needed to hear that right now, Daniel, didn’t we?”
I nodded. Her eyes rested on me with renewed love and resolve.
“I remember when you came home that night, excited to share God’s message with me. And His message is still the same today, isn’t it?”
“Yes, my love. His word never changes.” I opened my Bible and read: “’And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded upon the rock. Matthew chapter 7, verse 25’”
I raised my head to look at Elizabeth. Her eyes were closed and a sweet smile lit up her face. Though the storms of the Great Depression raged around us, we found refuge. We were at peace.
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