March 26, 2018

By Rev. Jan Wiley, East District Superintendent

Psalm 36: 7b-9

All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.

One of the favorite places in my life is sitting on the grassy bank of the Colorado River surrounded by kids, adults, games, noise, and usually a dog or two. My family has done glorified camping on a piece of family property at “The River” for almost 50 years. We are in the 4th generation of family and friends who have enjoyed this special place in God’s creation.

We wake when the grackles (very loud birds) begin their music at dawn. For decades we have slept on mattresses outside – occasionally wishing that the full moon in our eyes wasn’t quite so bright.

The days are busy and relaxing, quiet and chaotic. But always, it has been a place to “take refuge in the shadow of God’s wing” as I connect once again to God’s incredible creation and let go of the worldly burdens I carry. It is a time to spend watching birds, mud hens, hummingbirds and always the next generation of children as they come to this sacred place.

So I was excited this year that most of our extended family was gathering for Thanksgiving at The River and it would be the first trip for our new granddaughter, Caroline. My daughter and granddaughter and I drove out to The River the day before Thanksgiving. Her husband is a new nurse and he was working all weekend. My husband, Mark, and our son were supposed to leave on Wednesday, too, but Mark didn’t feel well that day so they decided they would drive out early Thanksgiving morning.

But when Thanksgiving morning arrived, Mark didn’t feel well again and the possible “flu” had localized in pressure on his chest and a heavy left arm. He made the wisest of decisions and called 911 and went by ambulance to the hospital. In less than 90 minutes, they did an angiogram and discovered 100% closure in an artery, did angioplasty and inserted a stent. Mark’s major heart attack did not cause severe or permanent damage only because of the early intervention.

So this year, our part of the family missed the Thanksgiving Feast. One of my nieces decided to set the long picnic tables with decorations and make it a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach. I only wish I had been able to stay and see it! But, it ended up I didn’t miss Thanksgiving at all. In fact, I still carry the gratitude as the psalmist says “For with God is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.”

I will treasure the picture of my family gathered at the Thanksgiving Table that we missed, with the river of delight beside them, and the light beginning to fade. But, I like to believe that even if I had lost Mark this Thanksgiving Day, I would still offer thanks for God’s presence as the fountain of life in this world – and in the next. And by the way, Mark is doing great!

Prayer: O God, who is the River of Delight and the Fountain of Life, let us offer gratitude and remember that no matter the circumstances, your Light is always with us!