We worshiped as a family, at a natural altar of stones, on a snow-specked mountain side.
Saturday was spent at the conference, talking to old friends till late in the evening. Sunday began just outside Los Angeles, two hours from home, but that was okay. We has already known that we wouldn’t be back for 9 a.m. church, and the substitute organist was warned ahead of time.
We ate our breakfast, swam with the kids, and packed. We stopped at a park and played for a while. And then we drove east. We would be seeing wonders with the children on Monday — the San Andres Fault; the Salton Sea; Joshua Tree National Park. Today, we were driving to the new hotel in Twenty-Nine Palms. It was Palm Sunday. I had talked to M. earlier, and our plan was to find a good spot in the desert where we could worship as a family.
The mountains were snowy, unusual for this time of year, and the kids were excited. They don’t see of snow down in San Diego. Look at the snow!, they said animatedly as we drove east along the 10. It was early afternoon, and we didn’t have much farther to go — Palm Springs was just a few dozen miles away.
A word back and forth, and then we turned south on the 243. It’s a gorgeous (and extremely winding) mountain road that leads up into Idyllwild, and the San Jacinto mountains. The mountain top is beautiful, but we weren’t going all the way there today.
Six or eight miles in, we found a great patch of snow, and the kids got out and played, tossing snowballs and laughing, and then piling into the car shivering, as we turned on the heater. We asked if they wanted to have church on the mountain, and they unanimously agreed. We drove on, up the mountain.
We found our spot by a little side road, where a ridge led to a striking natural square of granite, the ground half-covered in snow. We took a Bible and walked out to the altar. Our sweatshirts were really not much protection against the cold wind.
We had thought about a longer service, but the wind was cold and the kids were quickly getting goosebumps. We began with a prayer and then sang songs, each child picking a favorite hymn or primary song. We read from Matthew, about Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem. A few more songs, and then a few verses from John — A new commandment I give unto you. The closing song was, Did Jesus Really Live Again?
We gathered a few sticks from the mountain side, to remember our Palm Sunday. And then we got back into the car, and journeyed on.