I lost my mother to Cancer when I was 16 years old.
It was not a pleasant experience as anyone who has seen a loved one suffer through the ravages of that disease can tell you. But, I’m thankful for the ten years I had before it entered our family and took its toll.
Mom used to gather us around her on the couch and read stories. Usually they were episodes with a moral, teaching us a value that would be of special use to us in later life. There were stories from the Scriptures; from the old masters or the early settlers of this country. Tales of how frugality was important.
I remember, on cold winter nights, lying on the floor by the old wood stove listening to stories by “Uncle Arthur” and inserting myself into the very plot, becoming one of the characters as the whole act played out in my mind.
My love of poetry came from my mother.
I recall one rainy afternoon she sat in a rocker and my sister and I listened intently as she read, “Under the spreading chestnut tree, the village Smithy stands…” It was that same day that she introduced us to Maud Muller. To this day I can’t read that poem without choking up with a gigantic lump in my throat.
But, of all the stuff she would read, what I liked the best were stories related to the bible! Stories of the providence of God. I relished tales of how He cared for His people under dire circumstances and how He promised to do it again, “in the last days.”
Often in the afternoon, on the weekend after church, we would have our special meal in the dining room, with a table cloth on the table. Now, that was special! Usually we had meals at the old painted kitchen table with oil cloth on the top. So, to be able to sit at the dining room table was something of an occasion!
Now where was I?
Oh, yes! We would finish or meal and gather in our walking clothes to go for a Sabbath Afternoon Walk. These walks would take us out across the back yard, past the well house, out across the “10 acre field” and down the “Dugway” into the ravine.
The “Dugway” was just that. It was a passage way traversing down an otherwise steep embankment into the ravine that had been etched out of our farm over hundreds of years by the erosion of Chautauqua Creek.
Just on the other side of the creek, Mom would always have us stop on a small rise where we could look down on a wet swale that contained a spring. There she would remind us of God’s care for the “Children of Israel” when they were in the Sinai desert and without water. God in His providence provided water from a rock!
I would stand on that little knoll imagining Moses smacking a rock with his stick and watch the water flow out in my mind’s eye! Then it would be our turn!
Mom would walk down to the spring, chase away the usual Spotted Adder and frog or two, clear away any debris in the spring, let it clear and then, seemingly from nowhere, produce a small cup and give us each some water from that “miracle” spring!
All the while we were drinking she would be reminding us of how important that spring would be “during the Time of Trouble.” I guess some folks call it “The Tribulation” now. I would resolve in my little heart that I would remember!
And I have.
We sold that old farm after my Mother died and I have often wondered if the spring is still there. I expect it is because that’s the nature of a spring. It just keeps on producing water. Sometimes you have to dig around and get the debris out and chase away a few frogs and a Spotted Adder or two but, there it is, bubbling up out of the ground sweet and clear! Refreshing for the thirsty traveler, stopping beside the road beneath the apple tree by the meadow where Maud Muller raked the hay.
During the “Time of Trouble” that is sure to come, maybe I’ll make my way back to the old farm and find spot where Mother used to give us those object lessons and get a drink from
If I were a little younger, and perhaps a little wealthier, I think I’d go back a buy that old farm, just to preserve the memories…
…and, The Old Ravine Spring.