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Written by R.W. Cothern   

Last week while returning, from the association at Plainview, Texas, I spent Sunday night in Roswell N.M. in the same room and same hotel where I was awakened by the first explosion of an atomic bomb several years ago. But this time it was a most quiet and peaceful night. I went to sleep thinking of the precious saints I met at the meeting and trying to pray that God would keep them from all harm as each returned home.

Next morning I drove out homeward and soon was speeding along the ribbon of pavement that stretched for miles over green rolling hills, and as I looked at the western horizon I thought of the day when I was only a sixteen year-old lad that I journeyed alone and on foot; the ten rough miles from Lincoln to the Mountain to satisfy my long curiosity to climb to its summit.

I had joined the church the previous year, but had a desperate ill-at-ease feeling that I wanted to leave and see the "Wild west" that I had read of. So I came to Roswell, N. M. and paid my fare on an old relic of a stage coach that was still used on certain occasions to carry the mail to the bad little town of Lincoln. I arrived in Lincoln late that night after a hectic day with four drunken Mexicans in which the mail was lost, the four ponies driven to exhaustion and the old Post Master who spoke good English, grasped me rudely by the arm and took me into his office to get a report of "just what happened." He gave me a piece of his mind, and said I was a fool to come there, carrying a hunting rifle, dressed in hunting togs. "Don't you know the whites are hated here," and when he found that I was not there to file forland and was just a boy looking for excitement, he was more thoughtful, and told me of a white family who lived at the very foot of the mountain only ten miles away. He gave my supper, and a bed in a back room that jutted out over the river, and warned me to lock my door and not go out in town till daylight. I lay awake for hours listening to the little river, and wishing I was home by the old fireplace with Dad and Mother.

When daylight came, I started on the way to the mountain and the white family, which I found just at sundown, the little shack stood under small pine tree at the foot of the towering mountain, and a small stream ran through the yard.

The mother met me at the door and said, yes, you will stay with us,and wiping her tears on her apron she said, "I thought you might to be my long lost boy when you came across the valley; he is about your age. I felt so very sad for her. That night at the table she asked me to offer thanks, and I tried to pray but choked up and could hardly speak, and the father and mother shed tears as they tried to make me feel at home with them.

The next day after a three-hour climb, I sat at the tip of the great "Capitan" and watched the lonely prairies unfold before my eyes. I felt so much like I wanted to pray. I knelt there alone, hundred of miles from and began to pour out the deep flowing desires of my boyish heart and it seemed my prayers took wings and lifted me high above all that was mortal and earthly.

I was so happy and the pines below seemed to rejoice and glorify God. I sang awhile and wept awhile and wanted to build an altar like Jacob, for surely the Lord was in the place and I knew it not.

Forty-seven have passed since that day. I wonder where the dear little family is? Did the longed for son ever return? Why did I happen to fall in company with these lovely people?

So this is why I always look with interest for the dear old Capitan when I cross the great western prairies. Peace to your quiet glorious solitude! You have kept our little secret all these years. Keep lifting your blue heights far above the hills for you are not only a landmark for earthy travelers but point also the soul to its long sought home.

R. W. Cothern

DM NOTE: How many of these "secret alters" have you had in your life? Looking over my past 40 years, I readily think of several  wonderful occasions when the Lord met with me in a wonderful time of solitude and deep introspection. These experiences seem to happen so suddenly and yet they make life lasting impressions on us. Bethel places they are!

Last Updated ( Sunday, 03 September 2006 )
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The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.