Every year, as a Clergy member of the Rocky Mountain Conference of the United Methodist Church, I travel to Colorado for Annual Conference. This year I was delighted that the conference was held at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park. Not only is it one of the most beautiful settings in the world, it is a place important to my family, a destination for a yearly pilgrimage when we came to Colorado for summer vacations.
Our family’s Colorado roots came from my dad’s two summers of working in the kitchen at the Y-Camp when he was in college. He fell in love with these mountains and, when the chance came to purchase a run-down cabin in the mountains the year I was born, he and Mom cashed out a $1500 life insurance policy and bought the place.
When I sat in Hyde Chapel the other day for our clergy session, I remembered attending church there while we were on vacation. (It seemed much smaller than when I was a child.) I remember Dad being invited to preach there one summer.
He wrote about it in our cabin’s log:
August 13, 1968
I had the privilege of preaching at Hyde Chapel at the YMCA Camp near Estes. It was an experience I have secretly entertained a hope for. It was fulfilled through Dr. Finis Crutchfield’s recommendation to the selection committee.
As I sat in the chapel I thought on all these things with gratitude. Thank you, Dad and Mom, for this gift, this legacy that has brought me such joy and happiness and meaning. I’m grateful to be a member of this conference in this place which is my spiritual home.
I sat in the kitchen in the early morning and entered the stillness that comes with this place, this little cabin in the mountains. The stillness is not silent — the river roars below me, the hummingbirds buzz outside the window. I hear the chips and squeaks of the chipmunks and ground squirrels looking for breakfast.
I remember that on our family vacations here, Dad would get up before anyone else and get a fire started in the cook stove. (We didn’t have another stove to cook on and the stove also heated the water.) By the time others got up, the kitchen was open for business. We ran from our cozy beds through the freezing cabin to the warmth of the kitchen and a breakfast of pancakes or hash browns and eggs.
This morning as I sat in the same chair Dad would have sat in. It struck me that he must have longed for and found the stillness of those early mornings here in the kitchen, just as I do today. A tiny, sacred sabbath space before the day begins.
Quiet my anxious mind
And open my heart.
Let me find the quiet place
And meet you there.