For the past fourteen years, Ken and I have traveled, about once every eighteen months or so, to our shared cabin in the San Juan range of the Rocky Mountains. It is a refuge for us, a place where we can lie around all day and read or hike through a field of wildflowers or climb into the sky atop a fourteener.
Last week, Ken and I spent several days at the cabin, and it was unlike any other time we’ve spent there, beginning with the drive.
Ken wanted to fly; I did not. While I know that the airlines claim they are totally safe right now, and we certainly haven’t heard of any outbreaks related to flight since last March, I didn’t relish the thought of wearing a mask for the multi-hour flight. I preferred to ride in the comfort of our own vehicle. We’ve made this drive many, many times, but never without the girls (and a friend or two) and never without stopping to see the Mitchel corn Palace or the St. Louis Arch, the World’s Largest Concrete Buffalo, the Laura Ingalls Homestead in South Dakota, the Austin Children’s Museum, Dollywood, or dozens of others places we designated as can’t-miss spots along our chosen, circuitous route. This time, we drove as far as our gas tank would take us without stopping, hurrying to use the facilities, practically draining our large bottle of hand sanitizer. We chose campgrounds along the way, judging how much farther we could drive and where that would put us on the map. We pulled in between 9 and 10 at night, hastily set up the tent, slept until just before dawn, and then hit the road again, never making contact with another soul.
Once at the cabin, it seemed so quiet. There were no other people with us asking when dinner was, could they go on a walk, what day were we rafting or horseback riding? It was just the two of us, enjoying the peace and solitude of the mountains. On a few days, we hiked on our mountain. One day, we drove into Lake City (the same Lake City in Summer’s Squall) and hiked to the top of Slumgullion Peak, just outside of town. We were the only people on the trail, and we were treated to one of the most spectacular views of the region.
It was a good week for us, one we really needed in the midst of the chaos of planning a pandemic-era wedding for our oldest daughter. We told friends that this was our calm before the wedding storm, and it was a wonderful chance for us to reconnect with each other after months of being at home with the girls, worrying about everything from getting sick, protecting my parents, trying to find some kind of normal, and choosing wedding dresses and menu items.
We returned with a renewed sense of peace, clearer heads, steadier hearts, and a Father-daughter dance selection. Standing on top of Slumgullion, looking out onto the vast horizon, feeling the breath of God on my face, with no worries on my mind at that moment, I couldn’t help but remember the lyrics to one of my favorite hymns.
“You shall cross the barren desert,
But you shall not die of thirst.
You shall wander far in safety,
Though you do not know the way.
You shall speak your words to foreign men,
And they will understand.
You shall see the face of God and live.
Be not afraid.
I go before you always.
Come, follow me and I will give you rest.”
(St. Louis Jesuits)
For months now, many of us have been crossing the barren desert. We’ve felt like we’ve been wandering far from safety, and honestly, we still don’t know the way. We’re all speaking and wondering if there is anyone who understands. But in some way, each of us can find and see the face of God if we but seek Him out. Whether it’s on a colossal mountaintop or in the tiny eyes of a newborn, we can see the face of God and know that He will see us through. He will guide us to safety. He will give us rest.
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Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s book is The Greatest Gift. The suspense novel, Summer’s Squall, and all of Amy’s books, can be found online and in stores. Her latest novel, Island of Promise, was recently awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction. It is the 2019 winner for Best Inspirational Fiction in the RWA Golden Quill Contest, Best Romance in the American Book Awards, and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction. Amy’s 2019 work, The Devil’s Fortune, a finalist in the Writer’s Digest Self-Publishing Awards and winner of an Illumination Award, is based, in part, on Amy’s family history. The third book of Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Hope, was released in August of 2019.
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018), The Devil’s Fortune (2019), Island of Hope (2019).