Here in the desert, far from the city lights, the Heavens show off their brilliance. The stars above look like silver glitter strewn across a dark canvas, no space is left untouched.
This is the canopy that covers the stranded family.
Earlier that day:
They had come to visit the waterfall and creek that ran by the ancient homestead. The father had stumbled across it during one of his hunting trips. It was beautiful, quiet and secluded. The remains of a stone house, sat between two fingers of the mountain. It had rained a lot this summer, so the waterfall splashed down into a pool that ran off into a small creek that flowed next to the home. The home is only rock walls and a floor, the roof, doors and windows are gone, buffeted and torn away by the winds of time.
In its heyday the homestead was a gorgeous haven. The mountain snuggled the area on three sides and there was a huge boulder across the stream, it was covered in Indian pictograms. Enormous Mesquite trees filled the area; shading the house, the boulder and the stream.
The family came here often; it was their own hidden paradise. Today they had come, to escape the heat, allowing the children to play in the stream and lower waterfall. High up in the bow of the mountain sat a pool fed by an underground spring. It was the source of the stream the kids played in, the water traveled down three separate falls before flowing past the old homestead. Mesquite trees shaded the top and several more large boulders sat across the area. Two of the boulders were covered in more pictograms, but one was flat with a shallow depression in the center. The stone was a smooth bowl, most likely used for grinding corn when Indians still roamed the land.
“Daddy! Look we found some arrowheads.” Madison excitedly exclaimed.
The boys showed their parents their treasures too.
“Those are wonderful.” Bethany exclaimed as she admired her children’s treasures.
“Time to go kids.” Their father called, they all climbed out of the stream and their mom had them climb out of their sandy clothes. She rinsed them off and wrapped them in towels. At the truck she put on their clean clothes. Then she helped them climb into the truck.
Their father turned the key and nothing happened, he tried again and still nothing, he popped the hood and tried to get the truck to start but it was dead.
The children bounced around excitedly waiting to return home, they didn’t notice their parents concern.
“What are we going to do Adam? It’s at least 25 miles to anything!” Bethany softly cried.
“I know, and we can’t wait for someone to find us, our water and food won’t last long, and nobody knows where we are at. Hell nobody even knows of this place!” He wraps his arms around his wife as they come to terms with the dangerous situation they were in.
“We are going to have to walk out.”
“Adam! The kids will never be able to walk that far! I don’t think I can walk that far, especially in this heat!”
“I’ll make a travois out of the sleeping bags and a couple sturdy poles; I have an ax in my tool chest. We’ll also wait until the sun goes down. Don’t worry we’ll be fine” They stood together, embracing as they prayed to God to be with their family.
“But still 25 miles, that could take days!”
“We should be able to make it to Valencia rd. by morning, that’s about 10 miles from here, then we’ll set up shade and wait for nightfall to continue. Another 6 or 7 miles should be getting us to Happy Trails rd it’s more traveled. Hopefully then we’ll be able to catch a ride into town from there.” Adam assured her.
“We’ll have to ration the water and snacks, the kids won’t be happy.” Bethany sighed looking over at her children playing in the truck. “Kids get out of the truck.”
“Aren’t we going home?” Madison who was six asked.
“We’re going to have an adventure; the truck doesn’t want to start, so we’re going to walk through the desert tonight, how does that sound?” Adam asked his children.
Benjamin, four and Robbie three, squealed in excitement. Madison frowned however, remembering how far it was.
Their mother got blankets out of the truck and laid them out under the big mesquite tree.
“We’re going to take a little nap now so we’ll be rested for our walk.” Their mother told them.
“I’m hungry!” Robbie whined.
Bethany pulled a small bag of crackers out of her knapsack and handed it to the kids,
“Mine!” Robbie cried out.
“No Robbie, you need to share those.” The kids ate them and drank from the bottled water their Mom gave them.
“Time for our nap.”
“I’m still hungry Mommy!” Benjamin said.
“I’m sorry honey that’s all. Now lie down and take a nap,”
“But it’s still daytime.” Benjamin complained.
“We have a big adventure ahead of us tonight and if you don’t take a nap you won’t be able to stay awake.” Adam told his son. “Now do as your mother said and take a nap. Bethany honey, you should try to sleep too.”
“What about you? I could help get things ready.”
“I’ll lie down after I make the travois, it’s a one man job, so try to get some sleep, it’s going to be a long night.” Adam kissed her forehead and walked away.
Bethany softly sang to the kids, they fall asleep almost instantly; it didn’t take long for sleep to come because they had worn themselves out playing. Bethany soon followed the kids into slumber.
Adam finished the travois, rigging the ice chest to the bottom, so the kids wouldn’t slide off the end. Then he set his watch for 8:00 pm and laid a flashlight and his pistol beside his head and tried to catch some sleep. He laid there looking at the sky praying,
“God please be with us and give me the strength to get my family home safely.”
Adam and Bethany woke at 8:00 pm; they got all the snacks together and made a meal out of what they had left from the picnic. Waking the children they fed them then got them situated on the travois.
“I’ll walk Mommy, so Daddy doesn’t have to pull me too.” Madison said to her parents, even though they said nothing, she could tell they were worried.
“You have to hold your mothers hand the whole time, it’s really dark and we don’t want to loose you.” Her father told her. “And, if you get tired at all, you can get up with the boys, I’m strong enough to pull you too, okay.”
Madison promised and they all set out from the truck.
“Who’s going to be with our Truck? What if it gets scared?” Benjamin asked worriedly.
“The truck is fine, Honey. We locked her all up and she’ll sleep until we come back for her.” His mom assured him as they walked down the dry riverbed. The first hour the boys noisily chattered away, finally falling back to sleep. Her parents were mostly quiet as they walked through the dark desert.
It was kind of scary, when they neared a huge water trough she heard lots of squeaks and what sound like paper being crumbled.
“What’s that noise Daddy”
“Those are bats honey, don’t worry they aren’t after you, they are after the bugs near the water.” Just as he finished telling her that something large swooped over head, the breeze from it fluttered her hair. Before she could cry out,
“Just an owl, Sweetheart a really big owl.” He replied shakily.
“How much farther is it to the dirt road?” Her mother asked about a half hour later.
“It shouldn’t be much farther, but I’m not sure. I always look for the tracks that enter the riverbed, but I can’t see anything in this light. Why don’t you switch on the flashlight and scan the banks.
The flashlight was dim, barely lighting the area.
“Wonderful.” Her mom muttered, casting a nervous glance to her father.
Madison didn’t want to think about the looks that were passing between her parents, so she looked into the sky, her mom kept a hold of her hand, guiding her in the dark. The sky was glittered with stars.
“He counts the number of the stars; he gives names to them all. Great is our God.” Madison softly whispered a scripture she’d learned at Sunday school.
“What did you say Honey?”
Madison didn’t answer her Mother. She was trying to count the biggest brightest stars, but she kept loosing track. Then one bright star caught her eye, it seemed to be coming closer.
“Mama, look that star is coming down.”
“I don’t see it, did it already pass by?”
“No Mom its right over our heads!” her mom looked into the sky.
“I’m sorry honey I still don’t see it.”
Madison looked at her mother in astonishment, how could she not see the bright light floating above them. It wasn’t a star, but it was very bright.
*“Tell your father to stop the road he is looking for is right here.”
The light shown on the tracks to the road they had just passed.
“Daddy the road is there, under the bright light.”
“Madison, stop playing pretend, we need to really find the road.”
“But Daddy it’s right over here!” Madison jerked her hand away from her mother and ran to the road.
“Madison! Get back here, you were told to not let go of my ha…….., Adam! It’s the road! We almost passed it. How in the world did you see it, Madison?”
“Just lucky, I guess.” Madison said watching the bright light.
The walk became a little easier, since they were no longer trudging through the sand. The bright light stayed with them but only Madison saw it.
“Adam, look in the distance, do you see that light?”
“I do, I didn’t think there were any homes out here. We’ll go in that direction.”
They took a road that branched off from where they had been going, that light held more promise than the road they were walking towards.
*“He gives light to those in darkness, to guide their feet to the way of peace and safety.” The voice spoke out of the darkness. It comforted Madison.
They’d been walking for close to 3 hours and Madison was stumbling with each step, the light was still with them, watching over them.
“Adam stop, Madison needs to get on the travois.”
“I’m amazed she has lasted this long.” Madison groggily smiled at her dad and crawled next to her sleeping brothers. Her mom walked up to her dad and grabbed one of the poles and they continue walking toward the light in the distance. It was farther than it had seemed but still closer than the other option.
Madison had just started to close her eyes when the coyotes started howling close by. Her eyes jerked wide open as another howled then another and another. They were all around them. And it sounded like there were a lot of them. Adam handed his gun to Bethany and told her to follow behind the travois to keep the children safe and be watchful.
“Coyotes are usually more afraid of people than we are of them.” Adam said reassuredly.
Madison watched as three more bright lights joined the first,
*“Even though you walk through the dark desert, fear not because your God watches over you.” A voice spoke from the bright light again. Obviously her parents didn’t hear it, because they said nothing and her mom looked terrified trembling with every howl.”
Madison knew they wouldn’t believe her if she told them what the light said, they couldn’t even see the lights so she decided to sing instead.
“I raise a hallelujah, with everything inside of me
I raise a hallelujah, I will watch the darkness flee
Her mom and dad joined in;
“I raise a hallelujah, in the middle of the mystery
I raise a Hallelujah, fear you lost your hold on me.”
I raise a hallelujah, my weapon is a melody
I raise a hallelujah, Heaven comes to fight for me.
Madison heard the beings of light join their voices with hers, and she felt her heart swell, the coyotes were still howling but at a distance now. Her Mom picks another song and they continue singing. The scary feeling is gone; she can even tell her mom isn’t afraid anymore. As they walk they continue singing, it seems time stands still as they walk singing praises to the Lord. Suddenly the beings of light leave, disappearing into the night sky.
“No, Don’t Leave! Please stay!” Madison cries out as she watches them depart.
“Who’s there? Show yourself, I’m a Police officer!” Shouts a voice in the distance.
“Help us! My name is Adam, I’m with my family, we’ve been stranded in the desert.”
“Come out where I can see you!” the officer yells as he flicks on the lights of his cruiser.
Bethany puts the gun in her pack and they pull the travois onto the paved road.
When the officer sees the children, he releases a sign of relief; he hadn’t expected to run into anyone on this desolate road, especially at this time of night. Adam lets him know they have a gun, which he takes for now, then he helps them all into his cruiser. The boys wake up excited to see the officer.
“It’s a miracle that you were here; we’ve been walking for hours. Our truck died so we had to walk out.” Adam told the officer.
“How far back is it?”
“About 10 miles, we were by the old homestead.”
The officer whistles,
“That is quite a dangerous walk with coyotes and cougars out here. I came out here because we had a call about an abandon vehicle, but I couldn’t find one. I was ready to leave when your daughter yelled at me to stop.”
“I didn’t yell at you, I yelled at the Angels in the balls of light, they were with us in the desert, they kept the coyotes away and they lit the way for us. I didn't wasnt then to leave.” Madison told them.
“They lit the way?” The officer asked.
“We followed the light from the house in the distance.” Her father clarified.
“There are No houses or buildings for miles around here.”
Her Father steps out of the cruiser and scans the horizon. He can't see the light, actually he doesn't see any lights at all.
A mountain lion screams close by and Adam hurriedly returns to the cruiser.
The officer smiles and starts the vehicle,” I’d say you just experienced a bonafide miracle. You know the Bible tells us we should see through the eyes of a child. Sometimes they see and experience more of God’s supernatural wonders than adults do, because they see through eyes of wonder and innocence. For you to have walked all that way through the night safely, shows that God was watching out for you.”
As they drove away Madison turned around in the back seat, kneeling so she could stare up into the stars,
“Thank you Lord for being with us.” She watched as a bright star seemed to twinkle at her, acknowledging her prayer.