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Location: DownByTheRiver, Central Iowa, United States

Husband of the world's most wonderful wife, father of the world's four most brilliant children, grandfather to the world's eight most beautiful granddaughters and two handsomest grandsons

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Woods Mystery Ranger Philosophy

Once more the RRR shares a short essay he's found on why he seeks the river and the desert.

“When he paused to listen for Charley's voice, the woods around him, so silent and still, suddenly seemed to be full of a brooding mystery; a feeling came over him that the woods withheld from him, just beyond the compass of his eyes and ears, a secret that he couldn't penetrate. It was like standing before a closed door and not knowing how to open it. This was a feeling that he was going to have again when he was alone: a waiting and reaching-out to know and be merged with the mystery, an exaltation and a yearning. Many woodsmen have had it and are only completely happy when they are lost from the outside world and on the edge of it. It drove the mountain men of the early American West into the silence and loneliness of the Rockies and still sends its acolytes far into wild places where they can be alone.”

The Pond by Robert Murphy

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Gateway

The RRR knows of a doorway to another world. Like most such it is only open occasionally, but it is there. I found it quite by accident. I went for a walk in the woods on a hot Sunday afternoon. I walked past the old cemetery, through a long abandoned farm and down a lane across a field. The lane extended into the woods ahead that arched over the roadway as though it were a gateway to an estate. As I pushed through the shrubs and trees I realized that I was on an abandoned railroad right of way. The odd arching of the trees overhead made it seem that I was passing through gate after gate.

As I approached the area where there had once been a bridge across a small stream, things seemed to go fuzzy and out of focus. I had to step over a fallen log, under yet another archway. I became dizzy. I had a feeling of being drawn in... pulled as though sinking into something. I stumbled away in terror and somehow made it down the side of the old roadway to a small clearing in the tall corn by the stream. It was deadly still. Time seemed frozen in the oppressive heat. I collapsed onto the earth and lay there. I heard huge, leathery wings beating over me. I looked up and there was nothing there, yet I heard the wings flapping. I looked down and around and saw no living creature. It was as though I was suspended in time. Then a wind howled around me shaking the tops of the corn plants and whipping them about.

I looked at the nearby trees and not a leaf stirred. The corn waved and it's leaves rustled and hissed against each other all around me. From perhaps twenty feet away came the unmistakable sound of a large object being pulled from mud with a loud sucking noise. The corn's movement slowed to normal waving. The leaves on the trees by the creek began to move gently. I looked at the ground and saw a lady bug climbing a leaf, ants making their busy trails. I still lay there panting, my heart pounding, but beating slower. Like any good Boy Scout, I emptied my pockets onto my handkerchief and took inventory of my survival tools. By the time I had counted and arranged them, the panic was gone. I climbed to my feet and went quietly home another way.

A wise man would have simply stayed away from the spot. But my ego kicked in. I determined there was some reasonable explanation, that my feelings were all superstition. So a month later I went back. This time I marched determinedly straight to the fallen log and stood there proudly, and telling myself I had overcome all foolishness, pounded my walking stick down in determination and leaned upon it. It slowly, surely, sank into the ground, two inches, four, six, eight. I pulled it up with a loud sucking sound from road bed that should not have been mud and walked away the direction I had come.

On occasion, the gateway calls to me. The last time was when Oldest Daughter visited. We walked to within 100 yards of the first archway and turned back. Someday I may answer the call again

Peace Like A River...

The RRR is often asked by others, and has often mused to himself, what is the reason he so loves the weeks he spends floating down rivers in rural Iowa? With today's devotions he found part of the answer:

"I will extend peace...like a river." Isaiah 66:12

Isaiah is speaking here concerning Jerusalem. While Gentile nations will be blessed "as a flowing stream", she shall have "peace like a river". In Christ the same blessing is ours. A river speaks of abundance, constancy, breadth, depth and progression. Our peace is described by the Lord as "my peace" and "peace that passeth understanding". As we would enjoy, physically, a riverside location, so too should we appreciate the peace that is ours in Christ. With our minds taken up with Him we will be kept in "perfect peace". -- Roy Hill

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows, like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul. -- H.G. Spafford

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Cardiac Ward Ranger II

The RRR's readers may have noticed he has not been heard from since he posted a sermon two weeks ago. This is why.

The sermon was well received and Elder Raymond and his wife Arlene had Mrs. RRR and I over for a delicious meal of steak cooked on the outdoor grill. Jay and Jason joined us. After a fine dinner we went home. Of course I was very tired and fell into a deep sleep. Just as has happened on the four previous occasions of heart problems I had a nightmare. They are all similar. This time I was the last man alive in a bunker in Vietnam. My friends lay dead. All my ammo was gone. I could hear voices speaking Vietnamese outside the bunker. Flickering red light from flames danced through the firing slits. Suddenly an NVA soldier leaped through the entrance to the little sandbag fortress. He crouched under the low ceiling holding a rifle with a fixed bayonet. He began moving toward me in his crouched down position. I pulled my bayonet from its scabbard and backed away into the corner. He came closer. In my dream my heart was pounding. I awakened hearing my heart beating fast and irregularly in my ears. I was once again in atrial fibrillation.

I went out to the kitchen and gulped down four aspirin and my blood pressure medicines and dialed the Dr. Of course I was told to go to the Emergency Room at once. From there on was a duplicate of the last episode. I once again was admitted to the hospital for a number of days. Once again an increase in my medication converted my heart back to normal rhythm. I don't understand why this keeps happening.

I keep asking the Dr.s. Am I going into Atrial Fib because of the nightmares, or are the nightmares the result of the Atrial Fib? No one can answer me. But I pray now before I go to sleep not to have the dreams. Not a new prayer. But one that has suddenly taken on more importance.