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The River

August 15, 2011

We were a site to see. 5 stranded tubers on one side of the end of a long dirt private lane whose owner had just cursed us. On the other side of the lane, a hippy with his head inside the engine of his old VW. Oh, and it was raining and blood was running down the one shoeless leg of my son.

But let me back up. Let me tell you the story.

We are expert tubers on lazy rivers where paddling is required to make progress. We had done the lazy stretch of river many times and felt ready for action. Someone (later we would remember he was a young college student) told us it got better further up and so yesterday, we drove further up. From the edge, the rapids looked exciting. And so we tied 5 tubes together, braced our bums for the frigid water, put floaties on Sophie’s arms, and took off.

Prayers began 5 minutes downstream. Just after the Japanese tourists took our picture.

And then we started losing people. Aidan toppled over first. Sophie stayed afloat by sheer force of my hand on her stomach. Fear, screams, laughter… we were one a roller coaster, no!, the river rafting ride… Every break in the rapids brought cheers of victory, but when the branches started getting lower and our ability to control our direction decreased, doubt began to grow. Maybe the Brunos can’t handle this. After all, there were no seat belts or seats for that matter protecting our bodies… it was us and the force of nature.

The last few minutes are a blur. Aidan went under for the third time, losing a shoe, and Ella also went down. By the time they were back in the tubes and we saw the next bend, it was too late to stop. The current was going to take us right into the bank and under a massive tangle of branches. Ella’s hair got caught and she went in, Aidan fell over backwards, and I held on to Sophie’s chest, ripping her out of the branches as she screamed in horror. Within seconds, all 3 kids were screaming and Chris and I scrambled to pull off to shore.

Terror gripped Ella as she shook and sobbed hysterically, sputtering out “Thank you God for saving us. Thank you God.” Aidan was bleeding, Ella was in shock, Sophie was mad at me, and we all knew we had survived an adventure.

We had no idea where we were when we stumbled out of the riverbank onto a farm. We were tattered and dirty and didn’t need the scolding and cursing from the bitter old farmer whom we eventually passed. By the time we got to the end of the lane and saw the broken down VW, whose driver offered Chris a ride to our car if his ever started, relief had pushed aside fear. The retelling had begun.

In the 20 hours or so since our adventure, I keep hearing the words of Dan Allender, “Defy a culture that trivializes story.” He said that to CCC/CRU staff last month here in Fort Collins (and we snuck in) and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

School is starting in a week and one of our kids is now a middle schooler! We have a vision for our family in the public school and a picture of the kinds of kids ours will become. How we survive depends on the story they feel a part of. This misadventure in the river has all sorts of Bruno themes written in it that our kids will need to more confidently engage the world. It makes me think of the words of another wonderful writer, Ann Voskamp, “We don’t have to change what we see. Only the way we see.” The way we lived the story, and the way we retell it, points us to God, celebrates our courage (and rebukes our stubbornness), and binds us together as a family.

One Comment leave one →
  1. August 17, 2011 5:23 pm

    haha, you have some great kids there. Oh the horror and terror! I can’t wait to hear the adventures of the Brunos this year in public school.

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