We talked about rivers, their source, and does the water just start to bubble out of the ground and then grow in ever-building flow into a Mississippi, Wisconsin, or Missouri?  Do they begin with melt that just collects and finds the easiest path to outlet in some distant delta or create a fork and become two?  Many years have passed since my cross of the Mississippi River by car.  I think likely 1959 in the brown Chevy station wagon travelling Route 66 west.  Would have been in the St. Louis area.  Here on the LaCrosse span and tangle of freeway, we three brothers chatted about magnitude, rolling bluffs, glacier-formed rock that created spring thaw spillways, and the general power of the never stopping currents.  Green and blue-green, browns, tans, and leaved hints of reds and yellows didn’t dapple the almost baby mountainsides.  They buried the slopes in undulating sways of ceaseless paintbrush motion.  August.  Hot, humid August becoming the tapestry of fall.  I almost heard the bellow of steamboat, sensed the shoreline bustles of preparation of unloading, reloading.  Clouds became the depleting puffs of steam engines tugging too much weight from the waterway up the steepening inclines.  And then it’s all behind, a 73MPH disappear into the rearview, into a mind captured photo and think.

Our “Conestoga” would get us into Rochester about 9AM where we’d brush off imagined dust, stable the ride in a four-story parking structure, and begin the search for the right building, the right floor, the right desk in the maze of big city for small town Midwesterners.  The enormity of the Mayo Clinic settled upon us quite quickly.  Three forgetful Smiths leaving a soon to be lost car, joining a mumbo-jumbo mush of streets, traffic, streetlights, countdown crosswalks, and “all the buildings looked alike.”  Friendly folks – “it’s the tall, grey one you need just a couple blocks that way, left of the red sign there and up and over just there.”  And we made it, of course the initial entry was employee’s only since we “didn’t see” the ginormous, flower and plant adorned entry around the corner.  Six eyes scanned all about, alert for that predator called confusion and determined not to allow it any preying success.  We rather relied on praying success.

I had, we had, prayed about this consultation regarding my potential heart surgery and various options.  As hoped, the various specialists welcomed three ‘patients’ with broad smiles of understanding the need for six ears to hear what three minds hopefully would collectively remember in note taking and questions.  They absolutely knew my history over the past ten years – no notes in front of them.  They had studied my case history, knew the test results, and were with me and my brothers to review and clarify, consult, and then present a recommendation for moving forward.  I had asked my Lord for clarification, for understanding, for true and simplified information concerning my situation and left this journey and its results in His loving hands.  With each sentence, each question, each reference, I knew beyond doubt God was providing my need to know, my need for clear knowledge, and my desire to find peace with life ahead.  He understood I needed to move away from the fear and frustration of yesterday, come to terms with today, and live forward as the man He wants me to be, not the man I wanted to be.

In two hours and after a brief search for the Conestoga, we were meandering back towards the mighty river.  We talked about the consult and each of us marveled at the blessing God provided in answers and information.  I had been able to stay focused, able to avoid the mind addling and loss of thought mid-sentence issues the stroke has created.  I had His Spirit at my side.  I had my brothers at my side.  No heart procedure would be necessary unless one very specific event were to occur.  And we crossed the bridge, watched the mysterious hand of God as He pushed the waters ever onward, and enjoyed a bit of peace in the 73MPH view out the windshield.      submitted by Dave Smith