Time flies when you're living, she thought. It was only moment ago she was standing in the middle of a forested mountain hollow covered in snow. She enjoyed where she was, in a silence so deep she could actually hear snowflakes hitting the ground as they fell. She could hear the muted plopping of clumps of snow sliding from branches so laden down they flew back up as their tension was released.
The quiet of a place where no man made sounds intruded, sank deep into her soul and calmed every bit of her. She stood still letting the cold and silence seep into her until she no longer felt warm and would need to move again. She continued watching the falling snow and her breath steaming in and out. Occasionally, lifting a gloved hand to catch a clump of snowflakes for a glimpse of crystalline perfection before it dissolved, she sank even further into the silence. Finally, she began moving through the snow, lifting her knees high, carefully balancing as her feet plunged into depths of snow searching for a hold, back to where she had begun that morning.
She was trying to hold onto the stillness inside her, the feeling that God was so near that all she needed do was brush back a curtain to see him standing there. I need to hold onto this, she thought, I need to remember this. So, she walked without saying anything, just keeping still. Her breath coming a little harder, she was starting to feel a bit warm from the exertions. The snow was coming down faster and in spite of the noise she was making, she could still hear it falling, hitting the ground.
Her heart was so peaceful. She hadn't felt this way in a long time and wondered, why now? But didn't question further, just held onto the peace and the quiet that her soul was feeling. She knew she would need this, that it was important. She stopped in an opening through the trees and lifted her face to sky. She needed to rest, catch her breath. She looked around her, at the black and white perfection of the scene. It was like seeing an Ansel Adams photograph in 3-D. The aspen trunks were silvery white with black markings, and the snow had covered up all the other colors. Such beauty was not seen every day.
The snow touched her cheeks and instantly melted, turning to drops of water that ran down her face like tears. She smiled at the thought. She felt good, renewed. She knew God was speaking to her, calming her and so she said a silent prayer of thanks. When she was done, she moved forward again.
Her companion finally spoke, "There. That's where we left the four-wheeler." She looked at him and smiled to show she heard, not wanting to break the stillness with her own voice. They moved on quietly, not touching or speaking, but enjoying the other's company.
They reached the aspen stand where they had parked earlier. He pulled out the water bottles and she opened hers and drank. "Thank you," she said, smiling at him. Her voice felt a little strange to her, like she hadn't used it in a while.
He smiled back, his green eyes crinkling. "You okay?" he asked.
"Yes," she replied.
"You’re awfully quiet."
"I know. Sorry. Lots on my mind."
"Do you want to talk?"
"No, not right now." she took another drink.
"Okay," he too drank. "We should head back. You need to get going back to your brother's."
"Yes. I'm not looking forward to the drive. It will be hard with all the new snow."
"Just go slow and you'll be okay." he capped off his bottle. "You ready?"
"Sure," she took one last drink and handed him the bottle. He stowed them in the saddle bag on the four-wheeler and climbed on. She took one last look around her, said one last silent prayer of thanks and climbed on behind him.
The engine roared to life, cutting through the silence. He moved it into gear and they lurched forward. She slid her arms around him to hold on and rested her cheek against his back.
"Funny, how there's even a silence in the middle of this sound," she thought and became lost in the rumbling of the engine, the peace that was staying deep down inside her, and watching the trees slide by as they moved down the mountain.
That morning in the mountains seemed so far away, as she stood, a few hours later, holding onto her sister-in-law’s hand, in the middle of the room talking on her cell phone with a family friend, who was also a police officer, listening to him tell her about the accident and that there was no hope, that her brother hadn't made it.
And now it all seemed so long ago, and blurred with the passage of time. Every year it seemed she remembered a little more. The time spent in the woods with her friend where God had blessed her with so much peace before she would so desperately need it. Feeling that peace from the snow covered mountains come back over and over again, not just that day but many times over the years and knowing that God knew her, knew her needs and was taking care of her. And to her, that was all that mattered, all she needed.