Editor’s note: Mark Bradford is contributing occasional posts from his diary on traveling the country with his wife Wendy while they rent out their Mishawaka home for six months.
Day 11 of our 180-day sojourn
July 6 — Franconia, New Hampshire, Mittersill Alpine Resort
I saw the face of God today. Twice
The first time I saw God, her name was Erin. The second time God was an empty lounge chair.
God showed up the first time after Wendy had talked me into climbing an “easy” climb to Artist Point, from where you could see the valley shrouded in Canadian smoke. We had done our research and the path was described as easy.
Whomever described it as easy must have had a good laugh about it. It was by far the most difficult trail I have ever encountered. After 30 minutes of walking in the woods where all the roots were above ground and in between the exposed boulders (for a guy with weak ankles, this was breeding grounds for a really bad ankle sprain), we turned into the harder part of the walk, which was basically an “unsteady climb” of 45 degrees (more in spots) over huge boulders. I’m talking HUGE BOULDERS.
I was already angry about the small boulders and exposed roots when I suddenly realized that I had to climb up these boulder slides, the tops of which I could not see. Wendy, of course was tra-la-laing behind me, just out of earshot of my swearing (she claims I farted a lot, too). I am not kidding, this was really hard and my trick knee and soon to be sore hip were my constant companions. (Wendy would admit later that it was, indeed a difficult climb). My mood was not good.
Once we got to the top, there was NO obvious secondary route down and so I was doomed to climb DOWN the rock field. I was about to let God have it when suddenly He showed up.
Erin suddenly appeared out of nowhere and was not only a very experienced climber who had climbed the paths at night as a youth, but she was a mom and a nurse. She had just come up the impossible rock field, carrying her 2-year old kid on her back! Of course Wendy and Erin started talking and Erin showed us a much easier descent, though it was no bargain either.
All the way down, she joyfully told us her family story, enjoyed Wendy’s unending questions, and at the bottom, waved goodbye. I looked to see her a few moments later and she had disappeared.
That is how God works, I think.
The second time I saw the face of God I was at the top of Mount Washington, the highest peak in New England. We had travelled up the mountain by a “cog” train and, of course, Wendy took off at the top and started annoying all the Appalachian Trail walkers, and there were a lot of them. My social cup was full. It had been full for a while so I found myself a lounge chair at the edge of the top of the mountain and hid there. After a few moments, a certain peace came over me.
While I do not necessarily believe that God created the earth, no one can prove He did not. So, on a beautiful day at the top of the mountain overlooking the lush green valley, I chose to believe, at least for that wonderful hour, that He did.
I have been to thousands of church services. This was the best one yet. No music other than the sound of the wind, and no sermon other than the wonder that filled my mind. God was there.
Folks, if you do not believe that God exists, you are either not looking hard enough, or maybe you are looking too hard. God shows up on God’s time. You just have to recognize it when it happens. Then tell others about it.