I grew up in
There are rolling hills and flat fields.
There are tall trees and bushes.
There are flat fields that go from empty, brown dirt to tall, green corn.
There are flat pastures of grass enclosed by shaggy fences of grass and brush. The land is crisscrossed by black asphalt
bands of varying widths that carry traffic.
Dotted among the green hills and fields there are town and cities of different sizes. They go from little ‘hamlets’ of a few houses, a post office and a mom-n-pop grocery to full fledged cities with tall buildings and acres of paved streets and sidewalks and parking lots.
My home town was a small city with a tall, imposing courthouse and a few buildings downtown that were perhaps three stories at the most. When I was growing up the ‘town square’ was just a place where the two main roads, High Street and Broad, met by the courthouse. There was nothing fancy about it, mostly just designated curbs and a little green place with a statue in front of the courthouse. Its only claim to special embellishment was a little circus-wagon type vehicle parked in the southwest corner that sold newspapers and popcorn. Now it has become a little more sophisticated with a pagoda for mini concerts on the northwest corner and a little park-like area on the southeast corner with benches and a couple tiny trees. The courthouse and its sidewalks with the statue and the fountain haven’t changed a lot.
Almost anywhere you stand in
your vision is bounded by trees hills or buildings. For the first 23 or 24 years of my life that
didn’t bother me at all. I liked the
green. I liked hiking in the woods and
camping there. Tuscarawas County
Then the Lord called me to teach on a tiny mission in
. New Mexico
My mother had gone with sister Grace Henry to work in the bible school at Rock Springs Mission, just outside of
. They both came back with tales of dry,
barren, rocky, empty, mountainous desert.
Their reports of the houses was on the same order—bleak with rocky bare ‘yards’
no grass, no bushes, no flowers. Gallup NM
I asked the Lord why He would send me to a place I would hate. But as always, He knew what He was doing!
I had never seen the desert. I had never seen the wide, deep blue blue skies of
. I had never seen the mountains, rocky and menacing
jutting up from the flatness of the plains.
I had never seen the sagebrush and rabbit bush accentuated by
juniper. I had never experienced the
fragrance pine and piñón smoke drifting through that of sage and juniper. I had
faced into the cold bite of snow blowing across the land. I had never stood and watched a pillar of rain
with its crown of dark clouds moving across the land. And I had never stood and reveled in the rain
falling on me and the parched land. I
had never inhaled the heady perfume of wet sand and sage after the rain. New Mexico
From the first time I drove across the wide land, no matter where I went my heart stayed in
when I go back to visit with Notah and his family I am going Home. New
From any window in Notah’s house I can look out on the mountains. The Manzanos loom closest, about a mile away. I see them first thing every morning. In the distance I can see the Sandias. On the other side, the Piños and the Ladrones rear their peaks. And on a clear day far off to the northwest we can see
Rachael wants to move to
, but she wants to live in the mountains—up on the slopes of
the Sandias where the pine is tall and the mountain lions and bears come to
visit, and in winter you need a four-wheel drive vehicle or horses to get home
in the evenings. And I like that
land. It really is as awesome as the
flat land between the mountains. But waking
up in the morning and seeing the Manzanos between me and the rising sun is
something that still takes my breath away. New Mexico
Those mountains are so close that the sun rises at our house twenty minutes later than it does other places.