When I was young, I lived with my uncle and his 2nd wife. During the summer they took all of us foster children to Yosemite to camp for a week. Back in those day, one could put up a tent, set up camp and just go enjoy nature. It was wonderful.
There was a spot at the bottom of the falls where a small pond pooled and we could go swimming. Back then, I was still afraid of water, nonetheless, soon I was splashing and having a grand time with the rest of the children. The days were warm and the nights awe inspiring. The sky was clear and the air crisp. It reminded me of when I lived out back. Now I was around people, but I think I liked it better in the back yard than with this group of people.
One night, after we had gone to bed, I heard my cousin giggling. I rolled over and peeked towards her tent. There were two bear cubs playing with her stuff. One of them was licking her toes. I just lay there watching them, until they finally wandered off. Then, I jumped up and asked my cousin if she had washed her feet before she went to bed. She said, “No”, but after that she did each night. I heard later that she got the tent and I got the sleeping bag since I would not do what was required of me before we came. Silly them. I liked sleeping outdoors better anyway.
During the week there was what is called a “Fire Fall” where the boy scouts would build a large bonfire and then at a certain time shout out, “Let the fire fall” and then push the hot coals over the cliff. It was an actual waterfall of red rather than a normal waterfall. You could hear the shout all across the valley below.
After everyone was asleep, I would go over to pond and walk behind the falls and touch the water. I would think about God and how He was watching us even though we were far from home. I wondered if my mother could see me. Due to some issues caused by my earlier youth, I was in a lot of physical pain most of the time. However, when I was out in nature I felt such peace. I could almost ignore the pain and depression of not having anyone to really love me in a good way.
Many times over the years I would come back to Yosemite by myself, then I moved to the desert and found the same type of peace among the cactus flowers. Then, I moved to be close to the ocean. I loved it in San Diego, California. I used to play the Autoharp and would take my instrument where ever I went to sing praises to the Lord. Back then, I did not know that I was really His daughter, but I wanted to have a Father like him.
There were times in my life when I had to be very quiet. I used to draw to help me pass the time and soon I became almost good at it. I used to push my dresser in front of my bedroom door to keep me and the smaller children safe and to keep others out of my room. Finally I began to run away, even though they kept taking me back. After I got older, I learned that I could earn meals by playing music or drawing people in restaurants, and when I set up my easel on the sidewalks, I could earn money by drawing those who saw my work. Soon, I had enough money to get a place to live. But even sleeping in the mountains or on the beach, I felt much safer alone than being around others.
It wasn’t until I moved to Yuma, Arizona that I began to learn who I really am.