Isaiah 50:4

October 7, 2019

The Hermitage

October 6, 2016



Well, here it is 2:00am on Sunday morning and the Lord awoke me “suggesting” I write a thank you letter to three of the finest people you’ll ever know in your life. John Linn and his parents, Dennis and Sheila Linn, have just written a new book, The Two Hands of Yes and No: One Family’s Encounter with the Surprising Power of Active Nonviolence. They had sent me an autographed copy. It is well worth the read. 


Since I was up, He “suggested” I continue writing about the trip to New Wineskins. So here it ‘tis.  Some I’ve covered before, but it was such a blessed time I’m going to re-live it. 


Chris and I returned home safely from the New Wineskins conference. As for the return trip, not much interesting to tell. One interesting encounter. On the way down I’d left my hiking stick at a fast food restaurant where we’d stopped for lunch. When I realized it the next morning I called, and a delightful young lady said yes, they’d found it and she’d leave it in the office with a note that we’d pick it up Monday. When we arrived about noon on the way home I showed the young lady behind the counter my other stick and told her it's twin was in the office. Taking the stick out of my hands she disappeared into the back carrying it like it was going to bite her. Now my stick is quite unique, with cork handle, and “Hiker Hunger” emblazoned on the shaft. I’m not sure why she felt she needed to take it to compare to whatever she might discover in the office. Maybe there were a dozen or more Hiker Hunger walking stick hanging out in back? But  — thankfully — she reemerged with both. I don’t think she even had to read the note wrapped around the handle saying I’d return to claim it.   


Thanks to Chris’s skillful driving and stamina we made it home in two days. Recovery on the other hand? I’ve spent the last several days in the process  — resting, returning correspondence, resting and…..resting. 


But it’s time to try to capture Wednesday, September 26


Life is beautiful and so is North Carolina. The window in my room looked over part of the campus and in the distance were the mountains. This morning, as I opened the curtains I saw why they are named the Smokey Mountains. A wonderful blanket of fog lay draped over everything in sight.  


What a wonderful beginning to a blessed day. As I went downstairs to meet my friend, I once again encountered the SAMS group as they gathered for their retreat, and in those brief moments before I left for the day I greeted even more friends whom I hadn’t seen in years. It hadn’t even started and already the Conference was a success.


As I have also mentioned I brought my old hammered dulcimer with me, the small one I had bought way back in 1975, and had made arrangements for Jerry Read Smith, (owner of Song of the Wood and a unimaginably skilled craftsman with 45 years experience in making dulcimers) to see what was needed if I decided to have it refurbished. The next three hours are beyond description, but I’ll try because they were so much fun.


Jerry is a deeply religious Christian who loves to talk about God (which we did a lot of) and about hammered dulcimers (which we also did a lot of.) He is an authentic free spirit, and the only words I can think of that describe him are “a real character.” We spent the morning bantering back and forth about the rivalry of Air Force (him) and Navy (me) and doing some horsetrading about what price he should charge me for a new style of hammer's he's created. In the process I got more invaluable knowledge about dulcimers -- his in particular -- the story of his life, and life in general. He took me to his studio  — a hair raising adventure...walking on a narrow gravel path on the edge of a cliff using two hiking sticks for balance and Jerry as my backstop in case I started to fall. It was worth every step. 


HIs studio is named Perelandra (after the C.S. Lewis novel by the same name.) In years past he’s had some wonderful concerts there. The first video of Joshua I ever saw was recorded there. Proudly he showed me his newest creation, a $5,000 Grande Concertmaster, which he played for me. And then nothing would do but I play for him. Somewhat the equivalent of little ten year old Johnny playing the piano for Vladimir Horowitz! 


He also played a track from an album by a Christian artist named Nichole Nordeman. She’s a Christian piano player and Jerry’s says he’s working on a song he wants to record with her. The album is Every Mile Matters, and the specific track was “Hush, Hush.” Two things struck me...his sound system was superb, and...Nichole is too. I’ve since downloaded the album and it is awesome. Not only is her voice and music beautiful, the content will blow you away. Track after track is filled with Godly wisdom. If I took nothing else away from Jerry, Perelandra and North Carolina, this made the trip all worthwhile. 1200 miles to have your life...I started to say “upended” but that’s not quite the right word. I’ve listened to the album over and over since I got home. 


After an equally stimulating lunch (he is a non-stop story teller with the energy of a drop of water on a hot skillet) I returned to the Center. Oh, by the way. All that was needed on my 44 year old dulcimer was to change out the markings on the bridges to make them consistent with today’s the exorbitant sum of $35! (Probably three hours of work, plus replacing a few strings and other miscellaneous repairs!) 


Now back to Sunday, October 6th, 


It’s now 4:09am, my tea is cold and I haven’t even begun to touch the day with SAMS on Wednesday afternoon or the SAMS Family Day on Thursday, nor the opening Plenary of the New Wineskins Conference. But I’m calling “calf rope” for the day, and will start anew tomorrow. (Aww, come on. Was that a sigh of thanksgiving I just heard? And a whispered “enough already!”)


Fortunately Tito is at “boot camp” getting training in obedience so I can sleep in...I hope.


Tomorrow I start with the Wednesday evening with the SAMS missionary retreat and try to cover the rest of the Conference. We’ll see how it goes.


Till then,

Thanks for journeying with me. 


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