Sunday, September 28, 2008


A four mile bridge connects our little town to an even quieter corner of the world, and this morning, with gliding gulls, we crossed the massive expanse of eerily still water. The river, quieted by the slack tide, was a heavenly blue, colored by September sunshine. Bordered by rock cliffs adorned with autumn-hued vine maples, the road winds for miles along the mighty Columbia.

There are hundreds of pilings along the waters’ edge. They are scattered, then clustered, landings for cormorant and gull, visible at high tide and low for miles along this coast. Very few locals know the stories that these pilings tell, yet buildings stood atop some within my lifetime. Towns, canneries, entire industries now lost, covered these pilings only three generations ago, yet even the names of these bustling communities, no longer on maps or signposts, are lost to most. All that remains are pilings.

Lost stories…lost history…I think about that often. My children have made this drive hundreds of times, and the pilings are just logs, jutting from the river. They don’t see them as foundations, as homes, as businesses that flourished here.

I wonder about my own history and how much will be lost. (How much will I wish were lost?) There will be pieces of my story that my children will never know, and there will be stories that they will know and then forget to tell their children. I wonder how many pilings will be left. Will others see merely logs in the river’s mud or will they see foundations, great stories of God’s faithfulness?

In the book of Joshua (see chapter 4), the Israelites are commanded to set up stones as a memorial to God’s faithfulness. Joshua said to the people, “In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord.” And yet another generation would learn of the faithfulness of the Lord.

This quiet Sunday afternoon will all too soon turn to Monday, and I will mother little ones with colds, make yet another round of PBJ sandwiches and correct math problems. But the days will march on, and I pray in their wake that pilings in my life will be standing stones, testaments of God’s faithfulness to future generations.


Anonymous said...

You are wise beyond your years. Thanks for inspiring me to think deeper.

Vicki Preinesberger said...

those pilings if they are along the Columbia side were houses buily on them and the fisherman would stay in them instead of going home,could tie up boats and get some sleep, I remember my grandfather stayed there.Was a Naselle local off Parpalla Rd.
Enjoy your blogs!!!

Dea said...

I wanna be like you when I grow up. When did you get so wise? Has it always been that way, and I just didn't know. You're amazing and I admire how you use your God given gifts to further His kingdom. Thank you, Riann.

Paula Petit Owens said...

I love these stories, I remember my Grandparents, Paul & Mary Petit from Bay Center, telling us kids about the industry along the Columbia 100 years ago, fascinating stories. Thanks for posting this! Paula Owens