On Saturday, we drove up the lovely green Pahranagat Valley to White Pine County. We were visiting St. Bartholomew’s, Ely – not the regular annual visit but a special visit. I was there to dedicate their Memorial Garden. It is a lovely place with a superb sculpture of St. Bart in the center. The congregation commissioned it in memory of their late priest, Fr. Dale Miller. The statue represents the good saint leaning forward toward the street extending a hand as if to help a fallen child to her feet. It is a gesture of simple compassion. I have heard stories of unchurched folks who found the faith through the good works of St. Bartholomew’s, Ely “proclaiming the gospel” by such simple compassion. Their garden is the most serene and aesthetic spot in Ely – itself a blessing and sign of deeper blessings over the years and for years to come.
Then it was on to St. James, Eureka. Frank the musician, who plays old time evangelical hymns on the piano while Ministry Developer Norma Engberg accompanies him on the xylophone, had the heat on for us. The little church was toasty warm on a chilly sunny day. The congregation was Frank, Norma, Linda, a state patrolman, his fiancée, and me. It is small now, but there will soon be a mission there, a big mission. The molybdenum mine will open in the near future, hiring 400 miners, most of whom will bring families to this hard life in the wilderness. I hope we can find ways to help them with their daily struggles.
Monday was another day on the road back down the Valley – the Upper Pahranagat Lake is bluer than blue with bright green grasses -- enjoying a sandwich stop at Windmill Ridge. South of Alamo the vegetation switches from pine and willows to Joshua Trees and wild flowers. Stopping for road construction, we rolled down the windows and were awed by the depth of silence.
The St. Bart’s Memorial Garden lingers in my mind. Partly it is because the garden is such a beautiful work done so lovingly by good people. But there is something more. Tonight I will be at the Atomic Testing Museum with Nevada Desert Experience to say a prayer for an event to support the New START Treaty. Ely was downwind from the test site and has a high incidence of cancer. People there with some forms of cancer get special federal benefits because of the atomic testing connection. I think of the statue, St. Bartholomew reaching out a generous hand to suffering people there. Life is already so fragile and so precious. It makes war unthinkable; yet we keep thinking it and doing it, bombing others, bombing ourselves for practice. “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done” by us now.