Above the Clouds and Under the Water

I’m not sure how old I was maybe fourteen or fifteen when we went to visit some relatives in Colorado.  About that same time I was becoming really interested in things of God, I wanted to know more about Him.  Who was He?  Why did everyone talk about Him so much, except for my family? The subject just wasn’t discussed in my family, nor was it encouraged.  I didn’t know why, and my folks didn’t say, so what does that do to a kid?  It makes them even more curious!

On this trip to Colorado, I was up earlier than everyone else, as usual.  [I’m sorry but I have to say it – I was usually in a lot of pain in the mornings, all over the place, I didn’t know why.  The camper beds made it worse; but I was afraid that if I complained about this (too) I would hear, yet again, those dreaded and hated words, “Wendy, quite being such a hypochondriac!”  So I kept silent, I was in pain from as far back as age ten, when once I confessed the pain I was having to my then, school nurse, who told me it was growing pains which it would go away in time – they never did – I’m fifty, it’s called Fibromyalgia among other things.]  Anyway, we had gotten to our relative’s or friends’ house late the night before so we kid were all sent off to bed while the grown-ups sat and talked.  Little did I know they were making plans to go see a pretty incredible place; I was making plans of my own.  I had seen a church on the block two over from the house at which we’d parked our camper and vehicle for the night; I’d also seen that there was going to be early worship services the next morning.

Yes, you guessed it.  I left, not telling anyone where I was going, or when I would be back.  I don’t recollect what kind of faith the church practiced, nor do I remember what the sermon was, if there was one.  It was a really small church by comparison to the ones I had been in on the military bases growing up.  I guess with all the soldiers and their families, you have to have really big church buildings.  What I do remember most is the leader of the service was in a really fancy robe and had a really pretty thing around his neck that hung about half way down his chest or so.  The front of the church building was kind of pretty with all the wood work, and the railing behind which the man in the robe stood during the service.

At the end of the service, the same leader invited in the “body” to come down to the front to kneel and take the bread and wine.  Well, I knew what wine tasted like, I had had a really tiny sip of it once when Mother or Dad was drinking, I didn’t care much for it then, so I resolved to take the most teeniest tiniest sip I could ever get away with and still have some without pretending.  Because I believed pretending was as good as lying in church and could anyone really lie in a church and get away with it, no way, right?

I had no idea exactly what I doing when I went forward with everyone; but I went down with the rest of the bunch who stood up in my pew, when it was our turn.  I knelt very carefully, bowed my head closed my eyes and held my hands just so – like I’d seen all the other people do when they went up.  I felt the leader put the bread and the cup in my hands; but then came the problem, I couldn’t hear what the other people had said when leader gave them their share, so I said thank you as quietly as I could and hoped this was what I was supposed to say.  Oh did my face burn with humiliation, I was sure I’d done it all wrong, it just didn’t feel right.  I had no one to ask, and I was afraid to ask the leader!

It was so important to me; I wanted to do it just right.  Something told me it was important to God somehow and I hadn’t wanted to mess it up or cause embarrassment.  Although I wasn’t sure if the embarrassment I caused was mine, which I was sure was the case; or God’s, or leader’s.    I knew inside myself there was a problem with what I had done, so when the service was over, I left the building almost running.  I was so scared the leader or someone else would say something to me.  I had done something wrong.  I almost felt like I had accomplished that something I was supposed to do or know about God, but the something the accomplishment was elusive.

When I arrived back to the house where the camper was everyone was gone!  Holy cow!  I knew I was in deep poo.  I tried to get into the camper, but it was locked. Uh-oh, they’d gone somewhere and I didn’t know where they’d gone.  I knocked on the door of the house, no one answered.  I tried the storage areas on the camper, but they were locked too, if they’d been unlocked.  I could have crawled into the camper through one of the storage bins under the seats of the table in the kitchen, but they were locked up tight as a drum too.  About the time I was going to start going to knock on the neighbors’ doors or crying or go around the back of the house looking for a note telling me where they had gone; here they all came pulling into the drive-way spilling out of the cars everyone talking at once asking where I’d been, why hadn’t I told someone I was leaving, etc.  You could have heard drop of water hit a bathtub full of water when you have your head stuck underneath the water, it got so quiet from my family.

I knew I wouldn’t be hearing the last on that subject!  Mother and Dad weren’t about to say anything in front of the other people, so they told me just to make sure I asked before I went anywhere like that again because the family might have plans.  Which they had, I didn’t get breakfast that morning, they’d already gone out to eat, and had come back to see if I was back since they figured I’d just gone for a walk.  We all piled into the cars and took a really long winding drive up a mountain so high I thought we were going to reach God Himself!

Back then I was really prone to car sickness; I still am if I sit in the back seat of a car and try to do anything like read a book instead of look out the window and watch the landscape go by, so with all the twists and turns and ups and downs it was probably a blessing I didn’t have anything in my stomach!  We’ve had to stop more than once on a road trip because of my queasy stomach, it wasn’t a fun and I hated the road trips because of it, especially when I had to sit in the very back seat of the family’s old station wagon!  Even now as I write about it I can still remember trying to get that blasted window cranked down fast enough to puke between the car and the camper.  Thank God, when they finally came out with Dramamine, I’d rather sleep through scenery than puke every ten miles!

The deepest sorrow a person ought to feel is one for a child who has grown up without love, without a childhood, who has seen (too soon) the ugliness of the world and been introduced to or has had forced upon them the horrors of the in-humanities, which lie there.  I believe EVERY child should grow up in a home so filled with true enduring everlasting unconditional love, which simply bursts from its very seams.  My folks and their siblings didn’t live this kind of life, enough said.

However, I digress.

We reached to top of the tallest mountain in Colorado, and the end of the road (back then) where one could pull over, park your car look over the fenced railings and see the bottom of the earth!  I looked  over that railing and all I could see for miles and miles was green patches and even darker green patches, which Dad said were trees.    He said the silver squiggly lines were rivers, that you couldn’t even see creeks, wow, I was so impressed.  I looked above me expecting to see God but He wasn’t there, just a few little wispy clouds that barely looked like clouds at all.

The sun was shining prettily and it sparkled on the rocks on the ground around us where we were all walking back and forth, exclaiming over this or that other thing.  Then I saw a wonder I didn’t then, and I still don’t think I will ever forget.  Have you ever read the books written by a man, C. S. Lewis called, The Chronicles of Narnia?  We I had, have.  I think by then I had read those books at least a four or five times through, and the one that came to mind right then and there was, The Silver Chair.  It was the scene where Eustece Scubb falls over the cliff because Jill Pole is being a nincompoop and standing too close to the edge; she gets dizzy and he tries to save her, but instead loses his balance and falls over the cliff.

Of course, Aslan, The Lion, shows up just in time to blow him to safety.  If you want to know more you shall have to read the books, I don’t care if they are children’s books, they’re worth reading even as adults.  Soon after Aslan safely deposits Eustece into Narnia, The Lion then deposits Jill there the same way, on his breath.  During her journey she sees very far below her what looks like tiny marshmallows, but which extremely quickly become cumulus clouds, and through which she finds herself blown and out onto the other side soaking wet.

I tell you this part of the story because it struck me suddenly as I looked down over that cliff in Colorado, that I was seeing exactly what Jill Pole had seen, cumulus clouds.  However even though the shadows of them on the ground were only slightly larger, these clouds in the air looked just like the size of marshmallows one finds in a packet of hot chocolate, they were that small.

As we drove back down the mountain I kept an eye on those clouds and they did “grow” as we got closer to the ground and closer to them.  I’m almost sure it was Pikes Peak, where we were up there and if you want to see a sight to behold, and something straight from a storybook I urge you to go there and take in your fill.  It can’t have changed, it’s only been… well let’s just say a few years.

The end of our vacation as it was came all too soon, when we returned to real “life” it was a few weeks or a few months later, I’m not always that good with dates or specifics about memories as I said, but Mother and Dad decided all us kids needed to get Baptized.  One Saturday morning I remember Mother saying that we kids were all going to church to get Baptized, on the way there in the car, Mother or was it Dad, I’m not sure told us that the preacher was going to be taking us each one into his office and asking us some questions, to which we were all to say “yes” or that we believed it.

I did what I was told then each of us kids were taken into the back of the Baptist church given white gowns to wear and towels to dry off afterwards.  The preacher dunked us under the water one at a time.  When it was my turn, I plugged my nose like he showed me, he dunked me under the water after he said a few words about Baptizing me; and I came out wetter than I went in but I was feeling just as wrong and yucky inside.  It didn’t work, it was supposed to work!  Why didn’t it work?  I still didn’t have any understanding of what everything was all about.  We dried off and put our dry clothes on, then we all left.  Christmas came that year and we were each given a Bible with pictures in it, and words in red, and long words that made no sense, and some English words I had never even heard before.

Did I tell you I like to read books?  Well, I was very determined to read that Bible clear through if it killed me.  It didn’t kill me, I got it read all the way through, I still didn’t understand it, not a Word of what it said.  I didn’t know what I was supposed to know.  I was so hungry to know too, I wanted to understand what was in the Bible, and I wanted to know God, but it wasn’t until almost fifteen years later, when I turned thirty that I finally got my answers.   If you want the answers I found you can go here…

How I Came to Know Who God was, and Understand the Bible