Humbled in Montana

By The Reverend Steve Chambers

My wife and l are on a road trip with our daughter, Marisha, coasting through Yellowstone Park in her beast of a car, a Chevy Tahoe with 210,000 miles on the odometer. She knows the park, where to stop and view the scenery, where to hike, which attractions to visit. She is a Montana now, talking like one, confident and bold, though she draws the line at wearing a trucker hat, part of the standard uniform. She wont be here too many months longer, l think, her wanderlust is kicking in, and she is tired of being mistreated by her employers. "The only people in Montana are millionaires and the people that serve them" she says.

We cruise through the park, but after a couple of days of her herding us around, here and there, stopping at all her favorite haunts, l am exhausted. She is a Taurus, and l am being bulled about. My age is catching up with me. I had slept poorly the night before and l figure we are headed to our hotel for the night, just outside of the park. But just before we reach the park boundary, she pulls over and orders us to grab our swimsuits. No explanation and very few answers. I am about to put my foot down as if l were her child throwing a tantrum. But the other two already have their suits and are heading down a path. I follow dutifully. She hadnt led us wrong yet. We change clothes in a smelly rest room and continue along the path.

I tiredly stumble along, not even sure what we are up to, but pretty sure it involves water. The path follows the glacier fed Gardner River and people are walking the opposite direction. After about a mile, we come to a strange and beautiful place. A large stream of boiling water pours out of a hole in the ground and tumbles down into the adjacent river. In that area, all along the bank of the river, sit people of all nationalities and ages enjoying the mix of the hot and cold waters. Across the small river, not 20 yards from this confluence, stands a majestic elk, contentedly munching grass.

We join the others, about 25 or so in number, each of us finding that sweet spot in the water where neither the frigid nor the boiling hot would overwhelm. I breath deeply and look around. There are probably 8 or 10 nationalities sitting in the river, all in this common quest to find a bit of thermal nirvana. Plus, there is the elk. I listen to gurgling water and the chatter of the many languages. The world is right again and l am overwhelmed by the moment. Marisha has not led us wrong, and l am, once again, humbled by her wisdom.

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