Deerfoot Lodge is a stage for the wonder of God’s creation. Constant – yet with continual change. The sky can be cloudless blue, but it can also have beautiful white clouds which can turn a golden orange when the sun sets. The sky can be gray, as when it drizzles all day, or pitch black – total black. The thunderstorm brings into that black lightning which cannot be ignored, and the fierce thunder which follows. The sky which holds millions of stars can also dump gallons of water on tin roofed cabins, and support a rainbow that arches over the Dug Mountains. This same sky can drop snow which covers everything in the world below, snow that sparkles from the reflection of the sun by day, the full moon at night.
I could try to write a similar paragraph about what grows at DL: trees, grass, ferns, moss, flowers, fish, frogs…and people. All come from the hand of God, and none stay the same. Even rocks wear away in time.
When this world had been created, and God saw that “it was good”, God said “let us make man in our image, in our likeness”. And then God looked at all of His creation and recognized the truth “it was very good”.
On about 60 work weekends I have watched men arrive at DL with smiles, seen them hug each other, and then catch up on what is happening in each other’s lives. Many of these men have come together 30 or 40 times. There is much to share. And there are always men who come for the first time. With almost every one of these men comes the love of Jesus Christ – they truly live In Partnership With God. I have seen this reality!
Smiles, hugs, laughter… and also some very sober sharing. One man’s business is struggling; another is adopting three children – siblings: yet another is having a hard time balancing his corporate responsibilities and opportunities with his desire to be a wonderful husband and father. Many of us talk about Charlie Karner who had a stroke soon after the Memorial Day work weekend. He is doing quite well, but Barb was unwilling to have him return for his 78th consecutive work weekend. We missed him – hope to see him next Memorial Day.
The food is always excellent: Friday night at 7:00 we can count on steak and salmon… with all the trimmings – yes, a banquet! And the stories, the laughter, the kidding, and sometimes those very serious conversations continue.
After the dishes are stacked and the tables cleared, volunteers are asked to do the pots and pans, clean up the kitchen – and there are always more volunteers than space for them to work.
The God of creation is present on those weekends – His presence is welcomed into the conversations, His presence is integral to the relationships which have developed through work weekends over many years. Young, old, rich, poor – no one cares. One weekend I heard a man, obviously tired to the bone, say under his breath, “it is good to be at a place where nobody cares I’m rich.”
The work can be brutal – like carrying treated lumber up the Dugs as the left lean-to must be replaced. Other work takes skill – like building a log cabin with scribe, chainsaw and chisel, or replacing the fireplace hearth, or rebuilding the camp store cabinets. Some work takes patience, like replacing torn cabin screens, or sorting instructional area awards cards. Deerfoot seems to work like the body of Christ, the church, is to work. God is no respecter of persons. He asks that each person use their gifts, their abilities, for the good of His people and for His glory.
On Sunday morning all gather around the dining hall fireplace and the table where the communion elements have been placed. The first ring of people can reach out and touch the table. This is an experience of human closeness as 100 people gather at one end of the old log building. God’s word is shared with purpose, prayers are from the heart, and the singing reflects the words being sung: “And Can It Be that I should gain and interest in my Savior’s blood….My chains fell off, my heart was free; I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.”
And we do so with God’s blessing.