102 picked up my message. He’d be glad to meet us after his work shift. I was excited the rest of the day—I would get to talk with James after all. Late that afternoon, down at Government Camp we took a table at Mt. Hood Brew Pub and ordered food and beer. As we got better acquainted and I learned particulars about him, I was not surprised to find I already knew him in the essentials. He was the same kind, smart, patient man I’d previously sensed when snow and fright covered my eyes. And still so young, now just twenty-four. After enjoyably spending time this way, I turned to what I still needed to know about my accident. “James, I saw a stone chimney thing by the far parking lot,” I said, gesturing eastward. “Do you know what that is?” “Yes, it used to be a workshop for the parking lot crew.” “Where you found me . . . I . . . I wasn’t on the trail, was I?” His face showed a dawning realization that I hadn’t known, or ever been told, where I was when the snow gave way. “No,” James said. I must have missed a tight curve westward, where the markers were too far apart for the visibility, and I’d walked west in a wider curve, on a surface packed just like the trail, above the out-of-the way parking lot. I’d come nearer the ravine than I wanted to think about. “Then, the ski patrol . . . ?” “The ski patrol looked for you,” James said. “Then they called us.” Oh. The news washed through me. This would explain the lack of a safety alarm about the trail surface— the ski patrol had gone over it. They may have come within fifty yards of me even as I clung on the phone to the woman operator. How had I not heard them? James had, indeed, needed visuals to find me. Remembering that day, he said, “I saw snow above me that didn’t look right, and something like a ski pole sticking up. I didn’t hear you until I’d spotted your jacket.” Nobody had the whole picture that blinding day, and sounds were lost in the wind or the insulation of snow. But, thank God, in his search my untrained rescuer hadn’t hewed to the trail. Underpinnings and their limitations. Safety nets with chinks in them. Support and rescue that can come from an unexpected direction. I think about these layers now—the layer I have been used to skating upon, the lower layers that underlie our world, and have their own life, and their own solidity, or softness, changeable, no promises. Belonging to all of this, I will walk more carefully.
The Baptism of Christ by St. John
You Are No Paul If you feel you are ripe for a Come to Damascus Moment that’s fine: announce yourself with all the fanfare a convert deserves. But you are no Paul switching to a liberal progressive art-based humanitarian lifestyle. You’d likely be hung from a tree in your town if you so much as changed a step. My dad has always been a convert for the many religions he has converted to: and a convert, unlike someone born into a faith, knows the faith by its tenets. He, my dad, hopes he has walked some eschatological set of ascending steps toward an ultimate revelation however what he really taught me as his oldest boy the one who has seen the most is to never be afraid to change your mind and stand up for what you believe to be the right path. That is a fairly rare lesson. And combined with my first years of liberal education at the hands of