The mist of a light rain came and went, and a surreal quality surrounded the entire moment. A woman and a small child, standing next to a white van, were staring at the mountain.
We'd driven as far as you can drive up Smuggler's Notch in Stowe, Vermont. A large sign told about the falcons that lived up there. I could hear birds cry and then a child cry. Soon I saw a small child being carried by his dad to the van, and the woman and the other small child trailing behind. My husband was occupied taking photos and enjoying the scenery, but I was frozen, watching the drama unfold.
Being from New York, I've learned a sort of protocol of non-interference. So, standing on the periphery, I began to pray.
My husband was opening the car door, and it was time to go, but something stopped me. "Is everyone OK?" I asked. The small child ran to me and rapidly told me something I couldn't understand. Asking him to repeat himself, I caught a few words but still didn't understand. So I smiled and nodded and headed toward my car. "No, no!" he shouted. "He's on the other side of the van!" And he came to me insistent, as if I'd broken a promise.
So, I went with him to the other side of the van and saw his brother lying on the seat with some wet paper towels on his face next to some bloody ones. "See?" the child who'd brought me there demanded. The woman asked if I was a nurse. I said I was someone who prayed for people in trouble. She didn't respond, and the child who brought me there said that he was Kelly and his twin brother was Patrick, who'd fallen while climbing on the mountain. The woman explained that Patrick had gashed his chin. Cuts and scrapes covered his knees to the top of his socks.
I felt impelled to respond. I learned from Kelly that he and Patrick were starting kindergarten in the fall. Gently touching his sneakers, I pointed out to Patrick that he would be able to share his adventure on the mountain with his class, and he stopped crying. I assured him that he was safe and didn't have to remember anything about this day except what was good. Kelly said Patrick was stupid for climbing and falling, and I said, "That's how we learn sometimes, and as long as we learn from what we do, we are never stupid." What we said wasn't as important as the change from trauma to trust - a trust that everyone in this group on the mountain was just fine.
I turned to go back to my car, and I said goodbye to the woman who'd been listening as I spoke to the boys. "Goodbye, mother of twins," I said, touching her shoulders. "She's NOT our mother," Kelly blurted. I turned toward him, trying to think of what to say. Suddenly I knew, and said to him, "She's the Mom-of-the-moment, the Mom-on-the-mountain."
This included me, too. Regardless of our relationship to one another, we all could express God's mothering and fathering qualities of strength, comfort, and love. We're not limited to outsider status but are called to represent and express these qualities even if we appear to be strangers. Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper, wrote, "It is possible, - yea, it is the duty and privilege of every child, man, and woman, - to follow in some degree the example of the Master by the demonstration of Truth and Life, of health and holiness" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 37).
I continued to pray the rest of the evening for that small band of travelers. By dawn, I knew that, just as the sun was at that moment dissolving the mist from the mountains to reveal a clear day, everyone - Patrick, and Kelly, the dear twin brother who had demanded my involvement - was safe and at peace. Their dad and his friend, too.
The mountain had gained our healthy respect for the boundaries of exploration, and God was in charge of our every step.
... you are strangers
and foreigners no longer,
you share the membership
of the saints, you belong to
God's own household ....