By Darlene Stoneking, Alive with Grace Fellowship

What a wonderful church we have to be able to close the doors for a preplanned weekend to go up the mountain to celebrate together the glorious outdoors and fellowship. Not even a famed fire on the mountain could stop us. What a gift that a member who happens to love rafting and has a beautiful large home in the mountains had room for all of us.

Off we went, in RVs, or with tents or mattress in the home for a gathering of laughter, friendship and food. We arrived to start the evening with a potluck. Anyone know any other way to start a faith gathering? Before dark we took a trek down a path and up to the top of a rock cluster that held seating for all. Wonderful that they thought to bring the music notebooks from church and, of course, our beloved bluegrass musicians. A story of the tree that survived a rocky foundation and lightning, not once but twice, has survived to be a marker for the traveler below. A reminder that we all have our rocky paths in life but we also have strength to persevere with our hands raised in faith and trust.

Before we knew it, time to rise and shine and get some breakfast before heading out. The poor coffee pot was struggling to keep up with the demand. Dressed, ready with the teams and vehicles, they headed off to go to the rafting site. Because of the fire it took a little longer around the mountain to get there. A few of us stayed behind, everyone else was off to a water adventure. Half-day for a few and full day for most to experience the rush of a water-filled day.

At lunchtime I joined them at the half-way mark with the youngest of our group for his own lunch needs, wondering why they seemed a little late. One raft had an upset; literally up and out of the raft upset. Several ended up clinging to the side of the river until their group could rally around and pick them up. With comradery and prayers, everyone was safely back in the boat and down the river again. Grateful for the guides with the experiences and skills needed. Needless to say this is quite the story to share over the years for this adventurous family.

As we said farewell and headed for home, we all glanced up to the tree on the bluff as we drove past. Memories to hug tight as we reflect on the joy to be so blessed with Alive with Grace Fellowship, of our church and members. Hmm, I thought I heard this was so much fun perhaps it will be an annual gathering? So next year . . . . . .

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