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Posted Friday, November 2, 2012, at 6:18 PM

The morning was cold outside. The sound of the wind made its way in through the smoke hole and fluttered the door flaps. Curling deeper into the bedroll he moved slightly closer to the center fire. It had died down through the night so that all that was left were the coals glowing in the dark. He knew he had to add wood, but the bedroll felt so good.

Soon the cracking heat warmed the tipi as he settled back into his bedroll for those final minutes before his day began. Once the sun was up he had a long list of chores to accomplish. The best of which was sharing his love of this life with others--living in a tipi might not be practical for all the time, but for 'vous life it was the best.

Gathering his capote, he layered his clothes and put the warm wool coat over them all and left the warmth of the tipi. The cook fire stilled had banked embers, and quickly sprang to life again. Adding grounds and water to the pot, he would soon have liquid warmth as he put together the makings for breakfast.

Others in the camp were slowly waking as well. They went about their morning chores. Breakfast saw them gather to sip coffee, eat, and talk about the upcoming day.

Visitors began to arrive at the camp--curiosity and the cold drew them to the campfire. It was the heart of the camp. Women and children gathered around, laughing and visiting as they drew comfort from its warmth. The smells of lunch cooking in the Dutch ovens; hot apple cider simmering; coffee perking; and the smoke from the wood combined to make it very homelike. A small second fire was built for the making of candles. Rag dolls were being created. Conversation abounded.

People came through the camp, stopping to visit, share a cup of coffee or cider and then moved on. Some went to the range to watch or participate in the black powder shoot. Many tried their luck at throwing knives and tomahawks--learning the challenges of this style of life.

At day's end they all gathered--again around the campfire; sharing the foods that had cooked and simmered all day, swapping stories and tall tales, remembering the past and hoping for the future. Their 'vous life would end the next day and in many ways they were reluctant to rejoin the world in which they really lived.

The real world was filled with instant information, cell phones, the internet, television, political debates, wars, violence, and so much more. This time was their escape from the "real world" to a simpler, more primitive time. It was a time to weigh and balance priorities; to rediscover the simple life; to take a deep breath. 'Vous life became an immersion into the past, to clarify the future.

We all need opportunities to stop and reflect. God stopped to reflect after each segment of creation. Looking at what was created; God declared it good--and went on with creation.

Too often we find ourselves so immersed in the present, scrabbling for the future that we don't look at where we have been or what we have left behind. We need to take time to slow down; to reflect; to observe; and to rest.

God help us as we hurry through our lives to take time to consider the past. Help us to slow down to observe, think, reflect, and contemplate not only where we have been, but where we are going. Give us the courage to step back from our present life; so that we may plan for the future. So be it. Amen.

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From My Heart to Yours
Rayla Stewart Hogue
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Rayla Stewart Hogue is a native of Dexter. She is a wife, mother, and minister of the UCC (United Church of Christ). She seeks to recognize and embrace the unending hues of God's ethne and religion, and commits herself to living and expressing this inclusive diversity through Sacrament and the spoken, written, and sung Word of God.
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