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 Brainerd Up a Tree

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Doug Blair
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PostSubject: Brainerd Up a Tree   Tue Mar 12, 2013 2:39 am

Brainerd Up a Tree


I hope the horse Is ably hitched. The pine-gum is Strong and heady In this stand of trees. And I have only The woolen saddle-blanket To keep me dry As the dew comes on. Up this gnarled oak, With its autumn brown And orange all but gone.

The ride from the Settlement at Five Birches Was windy and cool, But I was oblivious. Caught in the memory Of the noon-hour’s lesson. With no less than Fifteen natives gathered. Captivated by the story Of the Master blessing And breaking and passing The loaves and fishes.

Moses is getting Very convincing In the translation. Seems they heard The tone of my voice, But followed more Eagerly his cadence And graceful hand-gestures. Fifteen months ago it was, He stumbled into My meeting, Drunk and disorderly.
Even debilitated By the native brew, He was quick to take pity upon My then feeble efforts With the language. No genuine conviction Of soul in him, then, But a servant’s heart. My travel-mate and guard. Together we watched Nursing does and young.

He excused himself Early this afternoon, Hearing of a sick cousin To the south. I will be alone For the next eight days. Six villages ahead. God help me To speak the Word, Lovingly, earnestly. My strangeness to them. The village bustle, the hecklers.

I always marvel how news Precedes my arrival. Children and elderly Usually first to sense Our good intentions. Curious, respectful, Very patient with my Use of language. (Moses predicted as much.) The drawing-slate helps. David! The moon has Broken through that cloud!

Below, the horse, still. Slow breath steaming. Fodder completely gone. How does one sleep, standing? Stiff, cramped and weak, I probably could tonight. But inside, thoughts And memories quicken: The college, the indiscretion, The expulsion, the searching, The still, small voice Of my Lord.

And now here I am Up a tree, contented; With autumn branches Like medieval window-panes Against the night sky. With faces and needs To lift up from That last village. How they love to laugh. Even in face of Deprivation, winter, sickness. Child-like candidates for Heaven.
Moses had made some joke. (Probably at my expense.) Gleefully they examined me. Head to toe. Perhaps the story of The bee-hive; Or the black bear Up the tree before me… My studies, my papers, Preparation? Given way to horse-back Prayers and sermonettes.

God, you have said That the heart must believe; The tongue must confess, That Jesus Christ is Lord. So, I am here with Message of a Man From across the Big Water, Harvesting hearts, Honouring, hugging, Hoping for their dawn. Leaves rustle across pebbles Like scurrying children.

Forgive me, Father, No burden tonight To watch and wait. No throb in the chest. No throat-lump. No compulsion to plead. Just an extraordinary Sense of place, Of purpose, Of privilege. To be in this wilderness, Witness to a loving Saviour.

I pray this cough Clears from the chest soon. Job’s Book The Thirty-Eighth, Speaks of Your majestic Authority over all The creation… the skies, The trees, changing weather, The ravens which cry. And I, oh Lord, Am seen by You…now sleep.


David Brainerd, October 1745, New Jersey


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