Talus Rock Retreat is not a house that one owns in the traditional sense; while we steward its walls and land, its own charisma inspires guests and visitors to ask what they can do for the house, or how they can help with the mission.
On the spur of the moment, guest Jimmy Sauter (a young engineer visiting Sandpoint on business) invited the new veterinary intern from North Idaho Animal Hospital (lodging guest Carlyn Zylstra ) to a round of Trivial Night at MickDuff’s. They had such a wonderful visit that when he finished his work at the local lumber mill, he returned to spend the remaining afternoon at Talus eager to lend a hand. We directed him to what we call the “Mine Shaft”, where he proceeded to crack open and test stored cans of old paint (We were preparing for an upcoming Spring remodel of the Talus Rock Gatehouse.) Jimmy didn’t know it then, but he ended up being part of “Robin’s Weekend”.
Life isn’t always easy, and paths aren’t always clear. “Robin’s Weekend” has marked a poignant one here at Talus Rock Retreat. While we most often welcome honeymooners, star-gazers, adventurers, vacationers and business travelers, we sometimes get the validating opportunity to share God’s place with those who deserve respite in the way that Bruce and I envisioned when we built Talus Rock Retreat – and so it was last weekend when we opened our doors to a teenage youth group accompanied by their pastor, T.J. Hahn, from Shiloh Hills Fellowship. The group is traveling a tender journey as one of their own, 16-year-old Robin (Pope) Burdick, continues to fight a devastating cancer.
Robin has osteosarcoma, a bone cancer that metastasizes to the lungs, and while she has been in chemotherapy for over a year and a half, she is now on oxygen finding it extremely difficult to breathe. The tumors have spread to her lungs and bladder. Her parents, Jeff and Jane Pope, and Robin’s husband, friends, and family are waiting patiently for their miracle.
Those close to Robin asked if they could come to Talus Rock Retreat a few days early to help prepare the grounds for the youth group’s visit. LeeAnn Burdick brought her sons, Andrew and Kevin, and her neighbor (Amber Sherman), to our doorstep. The group descended upon Talus Rock Retreat like angels as they shoveled paths, swept stairs, carried logs, spread gravel and hauled trash before joining my family and Jimmy for lunch at the kitchen table.
The family shared stories of Robin and honored the strength within each of us, acknowledging God’s grace and purpose though colossal trials. We realized how much hard physical work can help pass time and work through grief. Together we searched to restore confidence and our faith in God, praising Him, in the midst of severe hardship. I have come to believe that the Burdick and Pope families must be extra special people to God, for He has chosen them to hold Robin’s hand with the strength and faith to withstand this tremendously painful ordeal.
Burdicks and Popes, we offer up our sincere prayers and hope to God for a miraculous recovery. Like those who came alongside of Moses, we’ll do our best to hold up your praying arms while we, too, continue to pray for comfort, healing and peace to ease Robin’s suffering.
During this incredibly heart-wrenching time, we pause and say, “We love you and thank you for using your time to serve the Lord with your talents and bless us with service in the face of extreme grief. We honor your work and outpour of blessings through your extraordinary circumstances.”
Robin Burdick Pope passed from the arms of Andrew into the presence of the Lord, Jesus, on February 20, 2012.