The Library – Gateway to the World

18 04 2021

As many know, Cathy and I spent this last winter traveling some 8,200 miles around and through nine southern states, having a wonderful time, meeting friends old and new, and visiting places that we thoroughly fell in love with. In Florida and Alabama, we made several trips to the Gulf coast and saw spectacular sunsets. In the Carolinas and Tennessee, we absorbed every mile of mountainous road we could drive and hiked well over one hundred miles of wooded trails, some that reached heights so high we felt that we could look out in any direction and see for a thousand miles. Then, of course, there were the spectacular waterfalls some over 400 feet tall with the waters that flowed over them descending the mountains several miles. When we weren’t exploring, we were spending time with friends and family in those states as well as Georgia and the Virginias.

We have a hope to settle in one of these areas for our golden years, if not full time at least seasonal, but we wait upon the Lord for His Leading. This truly was a trip of a lifetime and we took several thousand pictures that we continue to go through, remembering the wonderful sights we took in and the incredible time we had. There were many we shared on social media, telling others about our journey as if they were right there with us. Often, we would get comments like, “That’s so beautiful! I can’t wait to see where we go tomorrow!” Or, “Your pictures and videos make me feel like I’m right there with you. Thank you for taking me along!” So, I imagine the next question would be, why did I post the way I did; was I just trying to show off? Well, from that; to get the answer you must go back 55 to 60 years to my adopted hometown for Fremont Ohio, and a public library there that sat where history was once played out.

Fremont is an early settlement dating back to the earliest days of our great country. It was there that the Americans built Fort Stephenson, and where Major George Croghan and 160 men successfully defended the fort from British troops during the War of 1812. Later years when the library was built, funded by an endowment from Sardis Birchard (which bears his name), uncle to one of Fremont’s most famous residents, Rutherford B. Hayes, 1 9th president of the United States.  On the grounds of the library is a monument marking the burial plot of Croghan, as well as a replica of the canon used in the battle, “Old Betsy.” Now truthfully, as a boy all that history didn’t mean much; to me it was a really neat building with a really cool canon out front. It wasn’t until later years I learned so much about it as well as my beloved Fremont. Looking back, I suppose you could say the library, to me, was like the fort–sanctuary.

As a child, I struggled in school with reading; it wasn’t until I was 12 that I learned from a private tutor. Often in class I didn’t know what was going on because of my inability to read, but I could remember certain books had beautiful pictures that I loved to stare at. When summer came like any boy, I’d play baseball and hang out with my friends. But a couple of days a week I’d do something that most kids wouldn’t see as fun, especially if you grew up in my old neighborhood; I’d walk across town to the library. As I said, I couldn’t read well so one would think that had to be a wasted trip. But there was a section that had picture books; bright, vivid pictures of places I never knew existed. Perhaps my favorite was one done my Ansel Adams “Sierra Nevada, the John Muir Trail,” which I’m sure is what placed a love in me for the mountains. There were other books of towns, cities, fields of flowers, rivers and waterfalls. A woman with salt and pepper hair worked at the library and would occasionally sit with me to see what I was looking at. “I’ve been there,” she would tell me pointing to a certain picture. Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, New York City and the Statute of Liberty. She and her husband traveled extensively in their younger days. Expanding on what was on the page, she’d tell me stories of traveling down the path of the Grand Canyon on burros or taking a ferry over to Liberty Island to see the Grand Lady that stands in the harbor. When she told me about cold splashes of water hitting her in the face as she stood near Niagara, I could almost feel it. She emphasized details of each sojourn she took to a point, that I felt I was right there with her. Those picture books and this dear lady’s eyes took a young boy on a thousand-mile journey via heart and mind.

“God never said the journey would be easy, but He did say the arrival would be worthwhile.” Max Lucado

Over the course of 50 years, my travels have taken me to many places that have left me in wonder and awe. But my first travels were through the portal of imagination, pictures and by way of others that blazed the path before me, such as this dear saint I met at Birchard Library, Fremont, Ohio while “Traveling the Rock Road.” Hence, why I share my experiences with others, so that they may be blessed as I was.

I honestly believe God put in each of us wonder for what lies ahead; after all, He made this beautiful world in which we live. The least we can do is see as much of it as possible. Amen? “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” (C.S. Lewis)

And just think, if God made a beautiful world for us to see and share, just imagine the beauty and wonders of heaven. Wow!

“Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

Thanks for reading

See ya next time!




One response

19 04 2021
Beverly Crane

Thank you for sharing the journey you and Cathy have gotten to experience. God has blessed us with so much beauty on this earth. Yes, we can only imagine what Heaven will be like.

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