Reflections

Gwen's Canyon

In Ralph Conner's book, The Sky Pilot, A Tale of the Foothills, Gwen is a wild, willful lassie who one day meets with a terrible accident that cripples her for life, making her rebellious and bitter. When the Sky Pilot, as the missionary to the mountaineers was named, visits her, he talks about the canyons that they both love.

"At first there were no canyons, but only the broad, open prairie. One day the Master of the Prairie, walking over his great lawns, where were only grasses, asked the Prairie, ‘Where are your flowers?' and the Prairie said, ‘Master, I have no seeds.'

"Then he spoke to the birds, and they carried seeds of every kind of flower and strewed them far and wide, and soon the prairie bloomed with crocuses and roses and buffalo beans and the yellow crowfoot and the wild sunflowers and the red lilies all summer long.

"Then the Master came and was well pleased. But he missed the flowers he loved best of all, and he said to the Prairie: ‘Where are the clematis and the columbine, the sweet violets and wildflowers, and all the ferns and flowering shrubs?'

"And again he spoke to the birds, and again they carried all the seeds and scattered them far and wide. But again, when the Master came he could not find the flowers he loved best of all, and he said: ‘Where are those my sweetest flowers?'

"And the Prairie cried sorrowfully: ‘Oh, Master, I cannot keep the flowers, for the winds sweep fiercely, and the sun beats upon my breast and they wither up and fly away.'

"Then the Master spoke to the Lightning, and with one swift blow the Lightning cleft the Prairie to the heart. And the Prairie rocked and groaned in agony, and for many a day moaned bitterly over the black, jagged, gaping wound.

"But the river poured its waters through the cleft, and carried down deep black soil, and once more the birds carried seeds and strewed them in the canyon. And after a long time the rough rocks were decked out with soft mosses and trailing vines, and all the nooks were hung with clematis and columbine, and great elms lifted their huge tops high up into the sunlight, and down about their feet clustered the low cedars and balsams, and everywhere the violets and windflower and maidenhair grew and bloomed, till the canyon became the Master's favorite place for rest and peace and joy."

Gwen agreed the canyon flowers are the best, and asked the Sky Pilot to tell her what it meant.

"The fruits--I'll read ‘flowers'--of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness--and some of these grow only in the canyon."

"Which are the canyon flowers?" asked Gwen softly, and the Pilot answered: "Gentleness, meekness, longsuffering; but though the others, love, joy, peace, bloom in the open, yet never with so rich a bloom and so sweet a perfume as in the canyon."

For a long time Gwen lay quite still, and then said wistfully, while her lips trembled: "There are no flowers in my canyon, but only ragged rocks."

"Some day they will bloom, Gwen dear. The Master will find them, and we, too, shall see them."