My travels have taken me south to Yachats, Oregon, a small coastal city in Lincoln County, Oregon. After getting myself checked in at the hotel I was staying at, I did a little snooping around. I discovered that this town was voted one of the “Ten Coolest Small Towns of the US” in 2007. I could see why it received this accolade as the town sits right on the edge of the Pacific Ocean with a forested hillside surrounding it. It’s beauty takes your breath away.
I also discovered quite the history here; a history not so becoming of the beauty this area holds. This region has been inhabited for at least 1,500 years with radiocarbon tests being done on the remains of a pit house that showed it dated back to 570 AD. The town was built on sea shell middens and numerous graves from past inhabitants. That sort of freaked me out knowing that I could be walking on someone’s remains. And it shocked me that when these skeletons were found when Highway 101 was being built along with other buildings, they were simply bulldozed into the fill dirt.
And this total disregard for the early inhabitants of this area continued. Native American tribes were forcibly moved to a reservation 80 miles north of where they had called home and where they were able to provide for their families. No longer were they hunters and gatherers. Now they had to make a living planting crops and many crops planted near the ocean failed causing many deaths by starvation. My blood was boiling thinking about how arrogant the white man was. It was if they thought this world belonged totally to them and that they could do anything they wanted to get what they wanted. And even though these tribes were finally allowed access to the Yachats River Valley where they were able to grow potatoes, oats, wheat, and corn, and allowed to hunt again, in 1875 they were once again forced to move because of the white man’s desire to homestead where they were living.
But that’s history and this area is simply beautiful. I knew I couldn’t change the history of this area, but I could make sure that I not only treated this area with respect since it is a gift from God, but that I also treat everyone I meet with respect. And this town seemed to have that same mindset, for each July 4th the Yachats la de da Parade is held and anyone in the town can participate. I saw photos of this parade and it boasts entries from the Yachats Umbrella Drill Team to belly dancers, to the fire department to the Oregon Central Coast PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). It seemed to me that this town has learned God’s lesson that we are all His children. And with all the activities this town has year-round, it shows that they are all thankful for the blessings God bestows on them.
I visited the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area and the Heceta Head Lighthouse. I also went to the Little Log Church and Museum, the North Fork of the Yachats Bridge, and the Gerdemann Botanical Preserve. All in all, my stay in Yachats was enjoyable if not memorable. I thanked God as I left Yachats for giving me the chance to be a part of their fine community even if it was only for a day.
And in my real life, as I prepare for the holidays, I am thankful that God has brought my sister and brother-in-law back to Colorado Springs. Having them close to us again has brought such joy to both my mother and me. I’m thankful for my entire family both immediate and extended since they all play such key roles in my life. Without them, I would not be who I am today. I’m thankful that we live in these United States where we can agree to disagree and still love each other. And I’m thankful for the job I have at Catholic Charities for it was here where I learned just how sheltered I had been for so many years, and how I had been ignoring God’s prompts to be a steward for Him.
I knew there were poor in Colorado Springs and in the world, but did I really see them? I did not. In fact, prior to working here, I did everything to avoid the poor and downhearted. Every time I heard the word “Stewardship”, I cringed, yetI felt God tugging at me to become a steward of His word. But I fought Him for years. Then finally one day, after being laid off from my previous job, I found myself working for Catholic Charities. God had managed to put me smack dab in the middle of His stewardship and I love it. He won; thankfully He won.
Catholic Charities is truly a steward of God’s word. We strive to treat everyone with respect and dignity. Race, color, religion does not matter at Catholic Charities. We are here to help those in need in whatever way our funding allows us to help. Through sound leadership, the staff at Catholic Charities has been able to help many people go from a desperate state of life to a comfortable state. We pride ourselves on giving a hand up and not a hand out.
So as we move towards Thanksgiving and the Christmas season, take some time to think about what you are thankful for, how much you have, and maybe how much you can give to the community that you live in. And don’t be like I was for all those years, fighting God about stewardship. Stewardship is quite rewarding and you’ll find that you have that much more to be thankful about by simply being a steward of God. God bless you all, happy Thanksgiving, and let’s continue to go the distance.