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Chaplaincy Clark County

Friday, December 27, 2013

Ice-skating the Great Republican River

Good morning,
I pray the day has found you well.

The river behind my house has ice on it. It is not iced over, the temperature is not nearly cold enough for that, but it has ice on it non-the-less.

As I stood in my back yard looking at the river, a memory came to mind, a memory from the early 70’s.

Growing up in St. Francis Kansas we had a river that flowed close to town, it was called the Great Republican River.

Bob Sperry, Tim Raile, and I decided to go ice-skating on the Great Republican River.

I know this sounds dangerous but really, it was not, or so we thought.

You see the Great Republican River had been dammed in the late 30’s after a particularly devastating flood. At least that is what we were told. The unintended consequence of this damming of the Great Republican River was that the river was no longer Great. The river had been reduced to a trickle at best and spent most of the summers rather dry.

But, this was not summer, it was winter and there was more water in the river. The water was also frozen.

So Tim, Bob and I decided to go ice-skating. One might ask themselves why three kids from Kansas would have ice-skates; one might ask that question. Of course, one might ask why we had snow ski’s, or an old parachute but then one never knows when something will come in handy.

We went down by the grain elevator, which if you are not from the country might be a little confusing. I will do my best to explain. A grain elevator is exactly what it sounds like, it elevates the grain. I never really understood why grain needed to be elevated, I guess carbohydrates have poor self esteem, and needs to be lifted up. I know that grain has a bad temper, at least that is what I have been told. The grain elevator operators always told us to be careful around grain elevators grain elevators tended to explode. Evidently, smoking really upset carbohydrates. I had heard of a guy smoking in a grain elevator once and the whole thing blew up, nasty tempers those carbohydrates have.

We went down to the grain elevator, which was by the Great Republican River. We put on our skates and quickly fell through the ice. We fell through all the way up to our ankles. We stepped out of the river, back onto the ice, and were on our way. It was quite an adventure really. Skating up river, jumping the sandbars, dodging the unfrozen parts. The river is really pretty in the winter and from the vantage point of the ice everything seemed different.

We skated for quite a while. We skated all the way out to the Riverside Golf Course. We skated to the pond that was at the golf course.

The pond was frozen over too.

We had a blast.

After a little while, Bob made a mistake and took off his gloves. That is when we noticed he did not have any color in his fingers. Everything was fine and dandy until Bob took off his gloves. Immediately we got scared. Thoughts of losing our fingers to frostbite came rushing into our heads and out of our mouths. Once we started down that road, it was a short hop-skip-and-a-jump too wild wolves, mountain lions, and our parents finding our bodies on the bank of the river come springtime. It did not matter that we were no longer on the river. It did not matter that we were fifteen minutes from town. It did not matter that we had never seen a wolf or a mountain lion.

I have often wondered who thought about these things, I think it was Bob he was the smart one.

We gathered sticks to make a fire. We did not have any matches, nor did we have a lighter. None of us smoked, to afraid of upsetting the local carbohydrates. Tim, who we used to call wilderness man. We didn’t actually call him that but looking back we should have. Anyway, Tim grabs one of the sticks and starts to roll it back and forth in his hands the way wilderness men do to make a fire. He never made a fire but what we quickly noticed was all this fire making work warmed our hands up quickly.

As what usually happens with young boys, we got bored, we started to get hungry, and we skated home, making a wide birth around the grain elevator.

Looking back on some of our adventures it is impossible to see that God was not right there with us skating down the river. He showed us many wonderful things; He shared His creation with us. I am sure that He laughed when our imaginations went wild. I had not thought about our ice-skating adventure for many years until today. Thank you Father for reminding me that you want us to enjoy life and that it is an adventure.

My prayer is:
Father, continue to show me things. Continue to nudge me into adventures, while at the same time reminding me of the adventures that You had given me already.

Blessings,

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