Red River rocking and the community house porchCurtis K. Shelburne September 9, 2021 0 COMMENTS
I’m sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch of the Red River Community House, Red River, New Mexico. It’s a Sunday evening, Labor Day weekend. This morning I sang and preached at the RRCH. Usually we’d do a concert in the afternoon, but COVID-19 resurgence concerns made that probably unwise this year. I’m just glad to be back at all. No surprise, Labor Day weekend 2020 was pretty much completely cancelled.
I’ve tried to look back a bit. If my calculations are correct, my wife and I have been coming here, generally to sing, preach, and sing some more, for eight years, minus the better-forgotten 2020. And for most of those years, we’ve been back to lead the Christmas Eve candlelight service at RRCH.
And more. The older bunch of our grandchildren learned to ski here. Watching their daddies teach them, I remembered teaching their daddies. But their daddies are better skiers than I am, and they became pretty good at skiing backwards (the daddies). I never did that. Not on purpose.
I remember getting ready for a sweet ski day. At the rented cabin (we graduated from mid-sized chalets to large houses as “we” grew), pandemonium would reign as we geared up for the day and got the little guys all buttoned up and weather-proofed.
“Ski school!” I always suggested to my sons. You’ll get to actually ski while they get expert training. You’ll get plenty of time teaching them anyway. I know you love them. It will drive you crazy, though, not to point it down the hill at speed. But the teaching will pay big dividends one day. It’s worth it!
“PawPaw,” the voices would implore, “will you ski with me?” “Oh, yes!”
One day I was about twenty yards behind one of the sweet grand-girls heading down the hill. We were moving kinda fast. “You okay, Brenley!?” I yelled. No reply. Just a happy dance on the skis, and on she flew.
I’m afraid I’d hurt my back if I tried to do a happy dance, on skis or off. I knew then, though, what was going to happen. One year, in a few down the line, I’d be gearing up, and I’d hear one of the grandkids quietly say to another, “Ya know, we ought to ask PawPaw to ski with us today.” A “pity” vote. That kinda hurts. But a “love” vote, too. And that’s what matters.
I’m rocking on the RRCH porch this evening. It’s still, and the sun’s going down. Here comes the wonderful coolness. Earlier a deer loped down the middle of the main street. The mountain above town is green and lush with vegetation. I admit, I tend to like it better when it’s white. But that will come.
And that’s sort of the point. I’ve sat on this porch in Red River time and time again. In seasons of joy and, yes, seasons of sadness in our own lives. I’ve not found many truly hard times yet that the mountains didn’t make just a little more bearable, but I’ve shed some tears right here. More times, I’ve smiled sweet smiles here with dear people that I love, and in these mountains, my soul sings.
I love mountains. I love porches. And I particularly love this one. Since 1940, this place has been a meeting place to share in, yes, community, and family, and faith, and worship.
God bless the wise people who conceived and built this good place. I don’t know a tenth of the names and a hundredth of the faces, but, as I sit here, sweet faces flash through my mind. My family. My brothers and sisters in Christ who carry on the great work of this place and have blessed me by allowing me to share along with them our deepest hope.
I think “place” matters to God. And in this place my heart smiles.