We were in no hurry to leave Sedona. Sister Tater slept in. I watched the sunrise then went by a coffee shop and picked her up a hot chocolate and a blueberry muffin. “You didn’t even know I love blueberry muffins,” she said. “Thank you.”
Who doesn’t love a blueberry muffin?
Our first stop of the day was Exposures Gallery in Sedona. We could have spent hours in that gallery. Our favorite artist was Rabby. I am sure he stood out because Sister Tater and I both love vivid colors.
We visited a couple of local shops (no, we did not buy anything — we have no room left in the car). Then we made the pilgrimage to visit the Chapel of the Holy Cross, which daughter Ashley had told us to be sure and see. It alone was worth the entire trip.
At first we thought we had to park at the bottom of the hill and hike up. I did but then I couldn’t find Sister Tater so I went back down the hill and put her in the car and drove back up the hill. Sister Tater has short legs. The hike would have taken her twice as long.
This was the view from the hillside as we made the trek up to the Chapel. Because she is short to the ground, Sister Tater got on her hands and knees to take a photo of the low-lying cacti. Me? I just walked a little further up the hill and took this shot through the view of chest-high cacti. Notice the little buds of yellow flowers on it. It was spectacular. If you have to be a prickly cactus this is pretty glorious place to be one. This fella has plenty of daily admirers.
As I stepped inside the church I saw a woman exiting. She was in tears. When I looked at the altar, I knew why. The thing I love best about Sister Tater is her love for the Lord. She rises every single morning and the first thing she does is take out her Bible. It is not one of these dainty pink Bibles but the old-fashioned heavy duty big lettered Bible. She opens it up and begins to talk with God. It reminds me of my Aunt Cil who used to do the same thing. Yesterday in the car I was talking to an author friend. I looked over because I saw my sister’s lips moving. She was obviously engaged in conversation but for once her cell phone wasn’t attached to her ear. “Who were you talking to?” I asked.
“I was thanking God for this beautiful land and all his mercies,” she said.
I suppose to some my sister might seem scary. One of THOSE women. But not to me. I remember with clarity the day when we were kids and I spoke to her of Jesus while she was shaving her legs in the tub. I explained how Jesus died for her, for me, for all of us. She called out later, “I did it!”
“Did what?” I asked.
“Asked Jesus into my heart,” she said.
The ironic thing about it now is that if you had to measure faithfulness, she’d have me beat hands down. The good news is that faith is not about our faithfulness but about God’s faithfulness to us. Sister Tater inspires me to be a better person. I have been surrounded by people who do that very thing. Not by the words they speak, necessarily, but by the life they lead and by the way they trust the Lord.
I lit candles for two of those people yesterday. My sweet friend Connie who continues to find the strength, physical, emotional and spiritual to rise each morning and greet the day with a heart of gratitude despite the virulent cancer that threatens her. And for Karly’s daddy, David, who has continued to hold fast to his faith, so that he can be the sort of man his daughter would be proud of, and I know she is. I stood over those candles and thanked God for sending these people into my life, for being the living Word to me.
The vision of Christ crucified in order that he might bring healing to a broken world.
It’s likely someone noticed me weeping as I left the Chapel.
As we left behind the beautiful canyon valley that is Sedona, Sister Tater and I came across one more sight that had us both bowled over in laughter. “That was worth the whole trip,” Sister Tater said. It was a man clothed in purple, walking uphill. Fancy headsight covering his ears and his arms outstretched and he aapeared oblivious to the traffic whizzing by.
Sorry the photo is blurry. I can’t roll down the window on the driver’s side. It’s been broke since I left Fairhope in August.
This is proof positive that after a week on the road we really are headed west. This was the sunset over the Barstow highway. We got to Modesto shortly after midnight and will reach Oregon tonight, God willing and the creek don’t rise, as Mama always said. I will say goodbye to Sister Tater in Portland and make the rest of the trek by myself. I might have to put in that Carrie Underwood CD , and crank up the tune “Jesus take the Wheel.”