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We have experienced the joy of Easter in the city, the country, the desert, and the beach, but experiencing Easter in Mt. Baldy is one of our favorite memories. We lived there for eight years, and it quickly became a tradition for our five young grandchildren. They came up from the cities below and spent part of Holy Week with us preparing for Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter.
They helped Granddad build the cross from branches found on the forest floor our first year. They climbed the hill and planted it firmly. Stones were placed around it to keep it steady. Sometimes repairs were needed, but most of the time the cross seemed to withstand the forces of wind, rain, and snow.
Kimball draped the cross with a purple cloth. It stood humbly on the mountainside above his study that we called the Servant’s Quarters. The children would run up the hill and place fresh wildflowers that grew alongside the creek beneath the cross. We had our daily meditations during Holy Week in sight of the cross.
On Good Friday he removed that cloth and replaced it with a black one. The children’s flowers lay wilted and decaying ‘neath the cross, but when they joined us for this day of quiet, they surprisingly seemed to understand its significance.
On Easter morning just at daybreak, Kimball climbed the hill again and took the black cloth off the cross, and draped it with a white one. He buried the dead flowers and replaced them with Calla Lilies from our flower garden. Having done this, he began yelling to all of God’s creatures, “He’s alive! Christ Jesus has risen! He has risen indeed! Hallelujah! Thanks be to God!
Throughout the day our family would pause and look up to the cross and feel the love and sacrifice it represented. ~ May you, also feel the joy of Easter!
Agape, Pam Coburn
In light of the recent rain, storms and floods, Kimball and I were taken back to a frightening experience we had 25 years ago. It was during Lent in 1993 and one of those unusual times when torrential rains flowed down the mountainside, but our spirits would not be dampened. We were still excited about the day before when we had begun our four-day Lenten series with the First United Methodist Church of Garden Grove, CA. We were eager to get back on our second day of activities, fellowship, and worship.
As we came to the creek’s crossing below our Mt Baldy home our hearts won out over our heads. We knew the water was higher than we had ever seen but didn’t anticipate its fierceness. We only wanted to get to the other side and be on our way. Ever so cautiously and with hearts pounding, we started across, only to be swept up in a matter of seconds into the raging creek. After crashing into a large boulder that kept our car from going farther downstream, Kimball found his door was lodged next to the rock and he could not open it, but he managed to climb into the back seat and open its door. Holding on to the seat belt to keep him from being washed away, he made his way to a large rock and held on. It steadied and protected him from the strong current. He called for me to follow. “No, I’m afraid” I yelled! He assured me I would make it and I believed him. I, too, climbed into the back seat and held on to the seat belt as I began to slide out of our car. The fast-moving waters immediately took my shoes (my new red flats!) and I began to panic. Looking up, there he was, one arm holding fast to the rock and the other outstretched to pull me to him. As soon as I got to him, he continued making a way for us to safety through the freezing waters and through thick brush to the edge of the road.
Our small community of good friends and neighbors rallied in support of us. As soon as we made it to a clearing they began wrapping us in blankets. About eight of us stood beside the creek watching our car, which was partially submerged in 5 ft. of water, being pushed and pulled by the force of the water flowing at an estimated 60 miles an hour. How in the world did we get out?!
As the tow truck began pulling our car from the creek, we saw a cross floating around in the back seat. “Look, it’s a cross!” It was a roughly made cross from branches of a fallen tree that Kimball had made for his time with the youth to illustrate the power of the cross. Never could he have imagined how significant that cross would become! Everyone pointed with amazement and the tow truck driver shook his head, took his hat off, placed it on his heart and said, “Bless be to God, it’s a downright miracle these folks got out alive! That cross is what saved them!” We told him we were “those folks” and thanked him for his concern and caring.
We held each other tight and smiled, feeling very humbled and oh, so blessed ~ The Creek, the Cross, and the Miracle! What an Easter Story! Never does the season of Easter come that we don’t stop our busy world and pause each day for our meditation time as we look at the cross and feel the love and sacrifice it represents.
Seeing the snowcapped mountains last week over Claremont reminded us of one Easter we had while living in Mt. Baldy. It was unlike any we had ever experienced. There were no Easter flowers but Mother Nature surrounded us with beauty. There were no comfortable pews but we had big rocks that could seat more than one and we shared quilts and blankets for comfort. We had no pipe organ, only guitars, but their music, along with our voices, echoed throughout the mountainside. You could almost feel the movement of the trees and brush, the squirrels and deer joining in the songs of Easter with us.
All of Mother Nature seemed to come to a hush as Kimball began to preach the Easter message. The clouds floated around us like angels dancing and rejoicing. The sun began to peek over the snow-covered mountains. It was cold out in the elements but we were warmed by the Holy Spirit.
The old rugged cross stood before us but somehow the sting of it was taken away. As we gathered close to each other, tears came to many. I noticed a child wiping his mother’s tears in sweet love. “Because He Lives” never sounded so powerful.
Alleluia, Christ is Risen!
May your Easter be Happy and Blessed, Kimball and Pam