Sunday, March 13, 2016


Sal had long dreamt of the day when he would be able to take the cattle high into the mountains all by himself. He had been at his father’s side each of the last seven years as they drove their small herd higher and higher into the Oquirrh Mountain range. He knew now that since he had passed his sixteenth birthday a few months earlier, his father would expect him to drive their cattle to the summer mountain range all on his own.

The wonderful smells of Mom’s Thanksgiving feast were long forgotten.

The bright colors of Christmas were once again back in their trunk in the barn.

The snows of winter were at last giving ‘way to emerald blades.

As Sal sat by the comfort of the fireplace and listened to the logs snapping their warming tune, his father’s voice broke into the silence at the beginnings of his drossiness which always seemed to accompany sundown.

Although his father had spent many hours as they rode up and down the mountain side repeating and repeating the importance of this annual ritual, for some reason his words had never had the force that now seemed to cause a cascading avalanche upon his sudden awaked-ness.

“It is time for you to drive the cattle into the mountain for the summer. Tomorrow I am putting the family’s future into your hands. Your mother and I know that our trust will not be misplaced.”

A little smile curved Sal’s lips slightly upward at the corners, partly because of the short direct sentences in which his father always spoke, as if he wanted those he was talking to to know that he didn't waste words, but mostly because of the warmness which was coming into his heart which he knew wasn't coming from the fireplace.

Sal broke the silence which followed his father’s declaration and then was immediately saddened and wished with all his might that his thoughts had remained in his head. There they were hanging in the air putting a chill on the room as if they had just gone out into a morning fog.

“How can I know the way?”

In the same steady short sentences his father, with more patience than Sal remembered him having in his voice before, said softly, “I have taught you the signs of the trail. Remember and follow the signs.”

The following morning, bundled against the chill of the brisk spring morning, Sal started the small herd of cattle which represented so much to his family’s welfare up the gentle slopes which led to an abrupt climb up the west side of the Oquirrh Mountains.

He had barely left the comfort of the valley floor when he suddenly found himself staring into the maze of canyons which would eventually take him into the high summer meadows where the cattle could contentedly graze until autumn.

As he passed familiar sign after familiar sign it seemed as if his father was by his side once again repeating those words he had heard so many times before. Sal was not only assured, but amazed at how those treasured words chimed a sweet comforting message in his mind. It made him feel assured in the same way he sometimes felt when the words and melody of a church hymn would come to him in moments when he felt troubled.

Remember the smells of life giving water are crucial.

The colors on the sides of the trees give one constant direction.

The stable stars of night will always replace the light of day.

In another day at another time the most loving of Fathers sat before his throng of children and told them their time would come.

I suspect universally we must have had the thought pass through our minds, “How can we know the way?”

Softly the Father of Fathers, knowing our hearts, would have reassured us with the softly spoken words, “I have taught you the signs. Remember and follow the signs.”

Surrounded as we are by the tempests of life, we make our way through the maze of valleys and up the mountains seeking to find joy on our mortal journey, gratefully hearing now and again, our Father’s words ringing from afar into our souls.

The stench of evil will be repugnant to the righteous.

The colors of truth will always brighten the path of those who seek My way.

The darkness of evil will always give way to the light of the gospel.

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