Our Christmas tree cutting permit had arrived, and we made a last minute decision to drive “‘up north” to Arizona’s high desert to cut one. Throwing a half-bag of cookies and some sodas in the truck, my husband and I and our young son, then about 4, took off on a Saturday morning adventure.
We knew the cutting area well, having camped in the area over the previous two summers. A storm had come through the area and 16-20 inches of new snow was on the ground. We got to the cutting area turnoff, and the country road was impassable due to the drifted snow. “It’s only a mile to the cutting area,” said David. “Why don’t you and Steve stay here and play in the snow while I go cut a tree and bring it back?”
Knowing that it would be too difficult for my young son to walk that far in deep snow, I agreed. David grabbed his saw and hiked off. Steven and I played for awhile, making snow angels and snowmen, then went back to the truck to warm up. Two hours passed. We nibbled on cookies. We went out and built a snow fort. Two more hours passed. We drank a soda. We threw snowballs at each other…..and more time passed.
I kept watching down the road where David had hiked off, expecting to see him crest the hill at any moment. After nearly seven hours had passed, I was of course really worried. I could have driven to town at any time for help, but I worried that he would come and find us gone, and I prayed for his safe swift return. The cookies and soda Steven and I had consumed were starting to wear thin, and the child was cold and cranky.
Finally, at the horizon, David appeared. I was overjoyed and jumped out of the truck to run to him. David suddenly stopped, threw down the tree he was carrying on his shoulders and sat in the snow, so happy to see us that he just fell to the ground in relief and to give thanks for deliverance (and to rub some circulation back into his very cold feet).
But I, seeing him drop to the ground, worried that he was hurt. Panic-stricken, I loped through the deep snow toward him. Did I mention that I faint when under emotional and physical stress? I have fainted on the basketball court, on the chancel at my wedding, in the grocery store while pregnant…
….I ran four feet in the snow, then fainted. I woke up, started to run again, and passed out after a few feet. He, seeing me passed out in the snow, tried to hurry down the road to me, carting the tree on his shoulders. His feet, nearly frostbitten from exposure, were numb however, and he had to stop every few yards to rub them to stimulate circulation.
This went on, me fainting, him dropping to the ground to warm his toes until we finally came together, falling into each other’s arms and sobbing with relief. We managed to drag the tree back to the truck, stopping when I became lightheaded, or when his feet became numb, loaded it and drove away to the nearest McDonald’s for hot food and cocoa.
PSALM 107: 4-6: “They wandered in the wilderness in a desert region: they did not find a way to an inhabited city. They were hungry and thirsty; their soul fainted within them. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble: He delivered them out of their distress.”
We look back at this episode now and laugh at our stupidity and unpreparedness, but know that it was the hand of God that led us from possible disaster, and are grateful that His eye is ever on the sparrow–and the fool.