Saturday, June 21, 2014

Reunions: A SANCTUARY AMONG THE TREES




By Ada Brownell
On Sundays during our reunions, the birds seemed to stop their singing and listened to us.
About regular church time, my siblings and the in-laws started unpacking instruments. An accordion, guitars, harmonicas, trombone, flutes, clarinets, and a couple of times in recent years, we had drums. We might have had a violin.
Jo Ellen often brought toy instruments for the kids and the children joined us.
 In places where we met inside and there was a piano, people took turns playing and sometimes played duets because we had so many pianists. Yet, many never had the chance. Not enough time for everybody.
In Yellowstone, we had fewer instruments, but Elinora always brought her accordion.
When service started, you'd think a small church had gathered with the 50 to 60 of us circled around on lawn chairs, logs and stumps. A few probably still sipped coffee.
After a few introductory instrumental songs, harmony echoed throughout the camp, a different type of music through the pines, glorifying the One who made us and all the beauty around us, but also for the Savior who was "God with us" and died for us, rising from the tomb letting us know we'll also have a grand reunion in heaven because of his blood and resurrection.
In Yellowstone, I especially remember times when campers from other sites came to hear the music. They leaned against trees, sat on whatever was available, or stood on the perimeter of our large circle.
Not trying to brag, but knowing almost every person in the family, even aunts and uncles could stay on key and most could sing harmony, I imagine we sounded like a choir singing the songs of the Redeemed. As the youngest, when I was growing up there so much singing in our house, especially from my four older sisters, I don't remember being unable to sing harmony.
At most of our Sunday get-togethers we also had testimonies about God's blessings in the past year. Usually one of us would stand and tell how God answered prayer, helped through difficult times, or poured out his blessings on us and our families. He brought many through financial or other challenges, and was with those who started businesses or went out in faith in ministry or other work not knowing what was beyond tomorrow, and God was there.
I told how the Lord helped our youngest son, Jaron Craig, through some harrowing times with asthma. At the time, Jaron was in the hospital on an average of every two months. But God brought him through and a strict allergy diet did wonders in helping him to stay healthy.
Several of the people standing around wept as we sang and testified.
Everette, who pastored in Montana, gave a short devotional  from the Bible with an inspiring and challenging theme.
Many of the strangers who joined us stayed to visit afterward.
I imagine everyone still remembers those who came near and drank from the rivers of living water, only obtained through faith.
Those times are among our sweetest memories.

©Ada Brownell March 2014