I left the border of Nebraska and South Dakota at midday on Wednesday, crossing the wide, sandy banks of the swift but shallow Niobrara River. Beyond it, I gazed across desolate, gentle hills of …
I left the border of Nebraska and South Dakota at midday on Wednesday, crossing the wide, sandy banks of the swift but shallow Niobrara River. Beyond it, I gazed across desolate, gentle hills of prairie grass, rolling away as far as the eye can see. It is the land where Chief Spotted Tail led a band of Sioux Indians northward, to find a place where there were no intruding white people that were coming destroy to his homeland in a search for gold and all it would buy.
At six o’clock that evening I got lost trying to find my way into Iowa, and I stopped on a high point to look across miles of the city and suburbs, of Omaha. There were lights to every direction, and from that high hill I could see giant ribbons of car lights backed up to a distant horizon, creeping slowly along. To all directions there were nothing but lights… herds of humanity in masses too great to imagine. I thought to myself that out below me was a misery of wasted time and wasted lives, where people worked their days and lives away to make enough money to survive, and flee on occasion to enjoy what their wages would buy, as far as they could get from a life that imprisons them without their knowledge of it.
Eighteen hours later I sat on an Ozark river near my home, watching the late-day sun cast the world in a yellow and orange landscape, where a quiet music played in flowing water and in the whisper of crisp falling leaves hitting an adjacent gravel bar. There were small fish there by the hundreds. I became tired of catching them from the dark, shadowed waters of a clear, cool current. Below me there was a river bluff with shades of subtle colors, bathed in the glow of a setting sun’s last rays. There was not a soul there but me, and a peace and contentment I cannot describe, settling over me in the late evening. It was a peace that made me want to stay forever, where I felt the Great Creator’s presence and a blessing far beyond what I deserve. It comes in a way I have felt a million times before, since boyhood, in those places where there is no man-made sounds, and His presence sends a chill throughout my being.
There is the distant howl of a far-away coyote, the screech of a wood-duck hen and the splash of an occasional fish below the shoal. I am a writer. I feel as if God is conveying to me a message to write for others, from Him. In a matter of hours, He showed me the beauty of the sand hills prairie, the confusion and waste in a great city during the late hours of the evening, and the wonder of an Ozarks river that seemed to have been, in those few hours, as it could have been a thousand years ago. Often, I feel the urgency to convey a message from God after seeing what He has shown me… but I have no idea how to do it. And I have no idea what it is!
God doesn’t need me. He has told our nation what will save us and what will destroy us. In the wake of our complicated technology, which is so loud amongst the great, crowded herds of men, God’s voice has been drowned out, I think. But you can hear it in the winds blowing through the grasses of Spotted Tails lands, and in the sound of flowing shoals and falling leaves from mine, hundreds of miles away. God is still alive I think, if you can find a place where you can hear Him.