A hearty "welcome" to visiting Little Leaguers and their families. It is our joy to receive you and pray that your experience here in beautiful Lycoming County is, well beautiful.
We have a local minor league Phillies affiliate, the Crosscutters, and we often hear spontaneously over the stadium PA system "Be-au-ti-ful." So, when you see that home run hit during the Little League Series, you can use that word freely. We do. Likewise, enjoy our mountains, valleys, river and streams with their myriad of flora and fauna, with colors and shapes that inspire. Sometimes when we are spell bound by nature, the only thing we can say is "Beautiful." It's a short hand way of praying, and giving thanks, on the spot.
In late spring this year, a retired field biologist friend specializing in water quality studies and I hiked through a portion of the Loyalsock State Forest in the general area of the Clarence Moore Tract. We wanted to confirm the actual locations of several bogs and wetlands that were on a 1980s map approximated via aerial survey. Leaving Ellenton Ridge Road and using both the Long and Short Run Trails as location points, we cut through the forest to the probable locations. We found three bogs, one of which we estimated to be about 14 acres. The wide open sunlit canopy caressed wild flowers, multiple species of ferns, reeds, sedges and plenty of sphagnum moss, all of which for eons of time survived with water-tolerant root systems. Aquatic creatures and their larvae were present, as well as bird species like pine warbler, flycatcher, nesting summer junco, raven, ovenbird and winter wren.
Retracing our steps, we paused at Long Run, which gently feeds these high mountain plateau wetlands, to measure water quality. Whereas distilled water has a TDS (total dissolved solids) of 0, bottled water is regulated at 50-150 and tap water at 150-400, this mountain water was 15. Simply amazing! No wonder fisherman, hikers and outdoor folks love Pleasant Stream and Rock Run with its crystal clear water flowing into Lycoming Creek near Bodines and at Ralston.
In that moment of inspiration on the trail, I paused and said "Beautiful." As Quaker theology might propose, "the Christ within me" spoke to my deeper self, and I could not help but lift a word of thanks. My Baptist tradition would also remind me about the "Living Christ" who "made all things" (Rom 11:36).
So, when you are sitting in Lamade (or Volunteer) Stadium this week and watch a ball thrown by the catcher, and it streaks to the second baseman a split-second before the runner gets there, and goose bumps go up your arm, it's OK to say "Beautiful." Then, take a moment right there, and lift your eyes to the South Williamsport "hills" like the Psalmist and acknowledge God's presence, especially "For the Beauty of the Earth" with all its human and natural inspiration. Blessings.
- Waltz is a retired American Baptist pastor and member of First Baptist Church in Williamsport.