Angels on the hiking trail? Last week my wife and I were in upstate New York enjoying the fall foliage. On one of our morning hikes we passed a trio of women and my wife, being a chatty sort, wished them an enthusiastic “Good morning!” One of the three replied that it was indeed good, what with the beauty the good Lord had surrounded us with. Grace (my wife) explained that we had been making exactly that point, and this led to a robust exchange with the women who, it turned out, hailed from South Carolina.
After a while one of the women asked “Could we pry?” Not being versed in South Carolinian, I felt vaguely uneasy. The last time someone asked me a prying question, it was while I was visiting a geriatric center and a nurse asked my underwear size. (Turns out she was buying some for one of the patients and said he was my size, so nothing illicit, except for my bruised ego in being anatomically compared to an 85-year old man).
When our fellow hiker said “Let’s join hands” is when I realized by “pry” she meant “pray.” Now while I consider myself a religious fellow, prayer to me is a private affair, in the vein of Jesus ascending the mountain in solitude to commune with the Father. But I acquiesced when she asked if we could join hands and p-r-a-y, so we did and she did. It was one of the richer memories Grace and I took away from our day in the Catskills, not the least of which was seeing in the midst of our factionalized world an innate goodness and fear of the Lord.
They were just three women, but to Grace and me they were angels, helping turn our physically satisfying day in the woods to a spiritually fulfilling experience. They also provided living witness to man’s innate goodness, and in so doing provided me comfort in corroborating one of the themes advanced in my new novel An Angel’s Noel.