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The wind did not simply gust in Bridal Veil. It often danced against the side of our cabin on diamond clear winter nights causing the wooden walls to creak and protest against the force of it's pounding.

And the wind wasn't the only thing buffeting us. All day and night Mary and I listened to the roar of the train which came by every hour or so only a hundred yards from our kitchen. Everything loose would rattle as if to say, "Glue me to this shelf or I will fall off at the next pounding."

When it was a freight, it approached ever so slowly. You could feel it coming engine after engine, car after car. It would get so loud, so long that all you could hear was the train while the cabin shook as if in an earthquake. If it was the passenger express, it would come upon us suddenly. Then, all in a moment, it was round the bend and suddenly.........gone. The night was silent.

One night to escape this sound show I bundled up and walked to the end of the street where The Bridal Veil Community Church sat deserted and the ramp to the freeway awaited the occasional traveler daring to leave the solitude of the evergreens and waterfalls for the accelerated beat of the super highway. The week before, in that same church, Mary and I had joined a service singing and testifying about our recent conversion to Christ while a few local folks listened patiently with moist eyes. It was the first time we sang, "I wonder as I wander out under the sky, how Jesus the Savior came forth to die."

I shivered as the wind pierced through my jacket. Looking up at the night sky so near I felt like Abraham hearing his seed would be as numerous as the stars of the sky or the sands of the sea. Things I had written and sung about love were beginning to happen in our lives. But the deserted church accentuated the feeling that whatever lay ahead would take me away from this beautiful place.

I was working occasionally as a painter while awaiting my appointment to a post office job. I could not understand what I was being called to, or how I was to provide for my family. But the stars, the wind and the sound of the trees gave me a sense of a mystical destiny calling out to follow the unseen God who had found me.Turning back, I decided that the next day I would climb up to Angel's Rest high in the mountains above to pray about our future. As I entered the cabin, I got a fresh log off the porch and tossed it in our flimsy wood stove, the thin tin kind that actually turned red when it got super hot. We were poor but we were happy. Christ had rescued us and the future held great promise.

This was an amazing time for us. We had recently given our lives to the Lord and had been swept into music ministry singing at Coffee Houses and happily telling people about how God's grace had changed our lives.

The next day, as I made the long climb up to Angel's Rest, I felt a new freedom enter my soul with every step. I now realized that all the beauty I was drinking in was the direct result of the creative hand of Christ. After a two hour climb I was looking down on the Columbia River. Boats appeared as dots in the distance. My cabin was hidden in a clump of trees. High above me an eagle soared. As I looked down at a waterfall plunging hundreds of feet into the gorge, I suddenly had a vision of souls entering into life on this planet out of the universe clothed with a body from the earth and returning the body to the earth again as their souls departed back to God. I saw them enter into a cloud called time, be here for a short while, and then return to eternity. I began to see that what we do here influences what happens there.

While ministering the week before at a local congregation, we had received enough money to purchase a one way ticket to eastern Oregon where we had been asked to sing and share our story at a series of youth meetings. We didn't have enough to get back and our rent was past due. Should we answer the invitation or should I stay and work? We prayed for and answer and went to the Bible. The Bible opened to Luke 12. My eyes fell on verse 31.

"But rather Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you."

As I read this scripture, I realized that as long as we sought God's Kingdom it was his responsibility to provide for us. We were being called to minister to people, not to seek a comfort zone to keep us secure until the grave.

The next day we left for eastern Oregon on the train. Our first meeting was in a high school gymnasium, the next in a youth camp, another in a church building, and the last in a coffee house. Each time as we shared, young people were drawn to Christ. When we arrived in Baker, the snow was falling. As we looked out the bedroom window where we were staying, the whole world looked fresh and white. It was like our lives. Sin had been covered and we were white as snow, beginning again, born again.

The Lord honored our step of faith and provided money for our way home, two month's rent and enough left over for groceries to fill our empty cabinets.

As we drove into Bridal Veil, snow was on the ground. We found snow on the inside of the windows, our bathroom sink broken off the wall, our toilet and all our pipes frozen. The only heat we had was the wood stove and there was no one to feed it in our absence. This was the first of many lessons that after much blessing often comes trials. As I wondered what to do, the Lord sent a neighbor, Delbert, to help me and together we fixed the frozen pipes. I was especially concerned as we had recently found out that Mary was pregnant with our first baby.

At last Christmas neared. I hiked up into the mountains above our house and found a beautiful 7 ft. tree and dragged it back to our cabin. Mary made popcorn on the stove, and we threaded a long popcorn chain to go around the tree. We made little people in Christmas outfits out of dough art for our decorations. We improvised a record player out of an old turntable, a discarded amp and a car speaker. I stopped at the library and we checked out some Christmas music. As "Silent Night" began crackling its way out of our speaker, we invited the neighbors for cookies and drinks. We were a community of souls in transition.
Everyone was passing through.

The town was owned by the Bridal Veil Lumber Co. and it was destined for sale. For some of us Bridal Veil was an invitation to the wedding supper of the Lamb, for others it was another stop on the long weary road of life. We had witnessed to everyone in the little community and found some of our neighbors were already new Christians. My next door neighbor worked with me and I was privileged to witness his conversion and baptism. Now we were all together for a moment in time in our little cabin never to repeat itself again.

The day before Christmas I went to the animal shelter to get a kitty for Mary's present. I was picking out a beautiful Persian when I heard a meow that sounded so deep and powerful it must be coming from a huge cat. As my eyes sought this feline giant they fell on a tiny white Siamese kitty. She meowed again and I realized this deep voice was a cry of desperation. "Take me, too!" It suddenly occurred to me that I might have sounded like that to God about a year ago when I felt so lost and alone. What could I do?
Soon I was driving the Corbett highway back home in my pickup truck with two kitties.

On Christmas eve the two new family members, Hepzibah and Kuklamoo, were checking out their new home. As Mary and I opened our Bibles to read the Christmas story, we felt the nearness of God, the presence of the Holy Spirit. We realized we had at last found a home. The fire was roaring, the Christmas tree added the smell of fresh pine. Two kitties had been saved from the gas chamber, and we had been spared the consequences of our former life style. We were not alone anymore. Emmanuel, God, was with us. God had made room in his great family for all of us. We had been called to a Kingdom with no end. The birth of Jesus seemed so close that it could have happened right there in Bridal Veil. Time seemed suspended. As the wind pounded on, the train rolled by, and the moon shone through our window in the crystal night air, for us, Christ had just been born.
Jesus was in our hearts.

Charles E. Smith

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