Over the years I have been blessed by having a number of my devotionals accepted by The Upper Room for publication, and I pray that my writing may be a blessing to others—whether by offering comfort, hope, inspiration, or simply entertainment. Much of my writing has been inspired by either my volunteer work or by the beauty of nature. The devotional referenced above incorporates both factors. I believe readers may enjoy hearing the backstory of this devotional.
I met Loren when he was added to my Meals on Wheels route in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. He lived alone in a cabin near a river at the base of a mountain. Age and physical ailments had weakened him, but he still enjoyed splitting firewood, albeit only a few pieces per day. As an avid hiker, I knew of an abandoned gold mine on the side of the mountain near Loren’s home, but I was uncertain of where the trailhead was located. Loren was kind enough to show me where the trail began and to describe his own experiences on the trail decades earlier.
This became a regular source of conversation between the two of us. Loren would ask if I had done the hike, and I would explain why I had not. My reasons were good ones: the creek, which must be forded, was too high with spring runoff; the forest fire danger was too high; my back hurt from yardwork; the trail was closed for several days due to a mountain lion attack on a connected trail system. Loren took my excuses with good humor and grace, but I knew he was growing weaker. I needed to do the hike, and I wanted to do the hike.
Finally, on a warm, sunny, late-September day I hit the trail and after two hours of hiking, I reached the old mine. I saw no one else during this trek and enjoyed the quiet beauty and solitude of the mountains. The stream paralleling much of the trail was crystal clear, with small falls emptying into quiet pools before the water continued the rush toward the river below. In stark contrast to what God had created, the wet, dark mine shaft dug by intrepid people more than a century earlier was neither lovely nor inviting. I did not linger, but took a few photos to show Loren when I next saw him on Monday.
It was not meant to be. Sadly, on Monday I learned that Loren was in the hospital, and soon after I heard he had died. I have repeated that gold mine hike since that day, always thinking of Loren and the miners who traversed that path so many decades before. The Lord willing, I will continue to do this hike from time to time, savoring the natural beauty, the memories, and the history this trail holds. May God bless each reader on his or her own path, whether the journey is spiritual, virtual, or physical.