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Weekly e-Gram for members and friends of Dublin Community Church

July 24, 2009

The Sands of Time

I want to go talk about our recent Mission Trip to South Dakota. The more I think about one part of the trip the more I am struck by the contrasts of what I saw.

I wrote to the parents of the youth on the trip and I told about our day-trip to the Western side of the state; through the Badlands (very cool!) and to the Black Hills (very beautiful!) and finally to Mt. Rushmore (very inspiring!).

I used to live in Montana, Washington State and California and it was a thrill for me to once again breathe the mountain air, smell the evergreens, and feel the dry heat of the west. I was delighted to be back in that environment after being so long away from it.

But, you must realize that if you go see Mt. Rushmore, and I would certainly recommend it, that you are going to drive by every tourist trap known to man (and woman). Mt. Rushmore was originally conceived in order to attract tourists to a beautiful and little known part of the United States….that of the western Black Hills of western South Dakota. So, while it is all well and good; patriotic and awe-inspiring to have those revered carved Presidential heads on a mountain side... the bottom line was the bottom line. It was all about tourism, originally. I am not making this up, the official history of Mt. Rushmore tells of this.

OK, so, it was conceived in the sacred cause of tourism; no matter, it is there and it is great and inspiring to visit, so go and enjoy. But an unexpected thing took place; every tourism scheme in the annals of history congregated around Mt. Rushmore. Lots of them are fun. Most of them look well-cared for, but how many T-Shirt Palaces can one shop in? How many excavations of "Dinosaur Bones" can a family view in a week? How many Authentic Western Buffets can one experience?

I don't know. But, I would love to have a full week to roam the Black Hills in my RV with my auto attached to the back and find out. It looked like fun and nobody said this was supposed to be as solemn as a Papal Audience; this is Mt. Rushmore and America and summer and I enjoyed everything there... or would have had I more time.

Later in the week, back at the Rosebud Indian Reservation we finished our work. One of the work leaders, a Native American, asked us if we would like to see a couple natural sites around the area. They mentioned the waterfall and the natural bridge. That sounded good to us; and indeed, it was.

We hopped in some Big Ford Pick-ups and went out of town to a secondary road. We traveled it for a few miles and then turned off on a sand two-track road. That went for a 1/2 mile and then we parked and walked 300 yards to a small, cool, shaded spot in the river valley. There we found the waterfall. Our guides told us to take off our sandals and walk in the cold, clear stream. We did. We were told to drink the cool, crisp water from the underground aquifer, which bubbled up to form the waterfall. We did. We were told to walk in the shallow, cold water for about 50 yards to where it met another little stream which was warm... and to experience the blending of the warm and cool streams. We did.

Our guides sat on the edge of the water and talked with us and watched as we experienced this simple pleasure within the hills. After 15 minutes we returned to the trucks and drove about 3 miles to a rock bridge.

The rock bridge was pretty small with enough room for maybe 25 at most to fit on it. Nature had carved this bridge in the rocks out of flowing water and wind and probably the freezing and melting of snow and ice.

We were told to walk onto it and get a picture. We did, (and you can see it in the coming newsletter from the church.)

That was it. One little waterfall and one little natural rock bridge.

That was it.

These were the things that our Native American men, who lived and worked on the Reservation wanted us folks from Dublin, Ohio to see and experience. No T-Shirt sales. No all-you-can-eat buffets. No World's Biggest Ball of Twine to boggle the mind.

Just a cool place in the river valley where the water was pure and refreshing. Just a natural-formed rock bridge which defied nature and the hands and sands of time. THAT was what they wanted us to see. THAT was what these men took pride in for their home area. THAT was their wish for us.

And you know what? I think our kids from Dublin understood.

Peace, Rev. Bob Tussing

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