**We conclude our visit to Franconia with this week’s devotional. We pray you have been blessed, encouraged and inspired by Elisabeth’s poignant family and faith-filled recollection of this most significant home and sanctuary in her life. Today Elisabeth further shares its spiritual and earthly influence in shaping her through this final installment.
We grew up in the Depression, and although we had no idea we were poor, we had little idea how rich we were in things other than money. That Cottage was one of the great riches, with its treasures inside and its priceless scenery outside, its inexhaustible supply of things to do, things to look at and smell and revel in, the mountains to climb and the woods to explore, the streams to bathe in, the rocks to own.
When I go back there now there is, mingled with the smell of spruce, the smell of char-broiled steaks floating across meadow and stream. There’s a campground now in God’s own wilderness. If ever the deer and the bear were really there as we hoped, they are gone, replaced by campers, tents, trailers, and displaced people on that inevitably fruitless quest for what isn’t there. They don’t listen to the wind in the trees or the brooks flowing over rocks. They’ve got the transistor radio on full volume while they set up the outdoor grill. They don’t lie in the dark and look at the moon over Lafayette-they’ve just pumped up the pressure lantern or switched on the lights that have by this time, for all I know, been wired in across the brook. They wade into our stream and climb over the Big Rock and toss their beer cans down where the suckers used to be.
I have to get a firm grip on myself and remember that none of this deprives me of what I had. “All that was ever ours,” wrote Amy Carmichael of India, “is ours forever.” That wonderful place was one of the stations of my life. It helped to shape my tastes and loves and imagination and vision of God, and I remember his command to the people of Israel: ”Thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee. . . . ”
They were to remember all of it. Most of it, I suppose, was more boring than memorable on that desert journey, and they had to go from Point A to Point B to Point C and all the way to Point Z in obedience, whether or not anything interesting happened along the way. But there were special places where God met them in special ways, and thus he helped them to review his leading. He knew how their memory would need jogging. The Cottage is one of the stations I go back to in my memory with joy. There are, of course, other kinds of places as well, places not at all like the Cottage which I would as soon forget. But, as Phillips Brooks prayed, I pray, “O Lord, by all Thy dealings with us, whether of light or darkness, of joy or pain, let us be brought to Thee.” It is he to whom and with whom we travel, and while he is the End of our journey, he is also at every stopping place.
**Excerpt originally published in All That Was Ever Ours pp 70-71.