As with many summer camps, Miracle Mountain Ranch has traditions and landmarks. Some come and go, or change over time, but others have been around since before I first came to the Ranch in the mid 70’s. Some traditions endure for a long time. We have done, and continue to do bunkhouse inspection and there’s always the chance you may be told how cute you are while being chaired for getting mail or on your birthday. They are a part of the culture of the Ranch, and I love that. There are attributes of the facilities at the Ranch that have been around for a long time. For instance, the Santa Fe Station used to be called the Horse Barn before it’s remodel back in the 90’s. The bathroom remodel continues to be a welcome change to alumni although it’s hard to imagine that it was done 7 years ago. New facilities still fit into the Old West town scene that was started back in the 60’s and they’ve been purposefully designed for the benefit of the ministry. Some landmarks are more natural. The drive up the “front hill” to camp can be a memorable one for past and present visitors. One fixture that has also been a part of the Ranch culture for as long as I can remember was not designed by man but by God. That is the Cherry tree in our ball field. For decades it has been a landmark. It’s shade has facilitated cooler temps for small group activities, a place for staff to catch a quick nap, or a location for conversations that had the potential of having eternal impact. “Let’s meet up by the Big Tree in the ball field” has been a way of giving clear direction for a long time.
The Cherry Tree has been in decline for years. Despite having had professionals work on it to sustain its health, it was determined that for the sake of safety the tree had to be taken down. It is estimated the tree was 76 years old and upon cutting it down, it was confirmed that the middle of the tree was significantly compromised. Taking it down was the right thing, but it was a hard thing. I too have so many memories attached to that tree. It is now gone but the memories remain, and the site still causes me to reflect.
We are exploring creative ways to repurpose the wood from the tree. Our first goal is to take a cross-section and attempt to use the rings of the tree to track the history of MMR. We are also considering other ideas of how to use the wood for God’s ministry here. We are so grateful for this part of God’s creation that He has allowed us to enjoy for so many years. That beautiful cherry tree has been the model for many photo shoots. It has posed as a silhouette through foggy mornings and beautiful sunsets. It will always be a part of our history. As with any change, there is a sense of mourning the familiar, but we know that God is not limited to the conversations had under the cherry trees limbs, but in His beautiful way, will create other places for kids and staff to remember where they “met with God”.