Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Power of a Mother's Prayers...

A few weeks ago my two oldest sons announced that they were going to go camping. Not the “cushy” camping that we, as a family, are accustomed to, in a campground with camp sites, bathroom and shower facilities and water spigots spread through out the campground. No, this was going to be “real” camping.

In preparation for this long weekend adventure, they went shopping and came home with roman noodles, some chicken, milk, rice, juice, cereal and all the ingredients needed to make s’mores on the nightly campfires they were eagerly anticipating. I approved their purchases while noting the lack of vegetables, but they were only camping for three days – they would survive.

All Thursday was spent packing the back packs, and checking, and rechecking their gear. They hauled all their groceries, back packs and the like out to the trunk of Jonathan’s old jalopy. They threw the sleeping bags and other assorted camping gear into the back of the car and finally, eager to be off, they called out good bye to the rest of us watching from the back porch.

After watching all of this prep through out the day I suddenly realized something very important.

“Wait!” I called; “Exactly WHERE are you camping?”

“The Linville Gorge.“

“The what? Are there are camping sites there?”

They stared at me like I had two heads.


“Oh - so what are you going to do?”

“Camp, hike – eat – have fun. We gotta go now, Madre – we’ll be late. We agree to meet Don at three, and we still need to get Mike.”

“Ah, okay. You have cell phones – right? Don will have a cell phone – right?”

“Sure!” they called, as they waved good bye in the dust stirred up by their spinning tires. The last I saw was their grinning faces as they drove off carefree, happy and young.

A cold piece of ice gripped my heart as I thought about just how young they really were and that this was their first camping trip without their 21 yr old sister to keep them grounded. Heck, this was Miguel’s first camping trip, period, sans parents.

They’ll be fine – I assured myself. We can call them on Don’s cell phone.

Of course, Don’s cell phone was out of range and not reachable when later that evening I realized I had forgotten to lecture – er, remind them to be careful about diving into unknown waters.

“Oh Mary – please pray for these boys who believe themselves immortal, and with boundless luck. Please safeguard them if they go swimming – don’t let them drown or break their necks diving into too shallow waters. “ This was followed by several Hail Maries.

Friday dawned, and still Don’s cell phone was unreachable. Suddenly I experienced this horrible lurch in my stomach – what if they were to get lost in the Gorge. What if they had left the trails they were planning on following? How would we know? When would we know they were lost? Not till well after Sunday when they were to return at some indiscriminate time in the afternoon.

“Oh Mary – please watch over my sons, as well as Don and Michael – don’t let them get lost please. Help them stay safe.” I followed this with more countless Hail Maries all afternoon and throughout the night, neglecting to mention my fears to Hugo, thinking he would just chide my foolishness.

‘Of course they are fine – it’s just a short camping trip, just a few hours away. Relax. They’ll be back Sunday.’ I could hear my husband’s quiet, calm voice in my head and I tried to listen to those imagined words of advice, but continued with my Hail Maries regardless.

Saturday morning dawned and with my sons hopelessly lost in my imagination, another horror hit me – what if one were to step on a rattle snake while traipsing about lost and bewildered through the Gorge??? More fervent Hail Maries were uttered under my breath as I went through the day – cleaning, tidying, reading emails, answering children’s questions and planning Sunday and generally just trying to whittle the day away.

We prayed our evening Rosary. With the children settled down for the evening, I sat down before the computer, prepared to distract myself some more when a slight movement in the corner of my eye caused me to look to my right – just in time to see Jonathan, exhausted and rumpled, sink into the arm chair beside me. His bare arms were badly scratched; his face was sun burnt and very, very tired.

I glanced behind me expecting to see his younger, though taller, brother behind me. He wasn’t. My heart leapt to my throat! This was not Sunday – why was Jonathan home so early, and without his brother? Why did he look so disdraught?

I gaped at Jonathan, and startled him out of his reverie as I yelled at him; “WHERE IS MIGUEL?”

“I don’t know…”, he replied as he rubbed his hand over his eyes.

“YOU DON’T KNOW?????” I could barely breath.

“No – he’s around somewhere, maybe still in the car. I don’t know.”

A huge sigh of relief issued from my lips. Now I could relax and pepper him with questions.

“Why are you home so early?"
"Did you have fun?"
"Where is Don?"
"Is Michael still with you?”

Again, my son wearily rubbed his hand over his forehead.

“Don is home I guess, Mike’s in the garage and we got lost.”

“Lost? You mean as you were driving home or when you drove up?”

“No – in the Gorge. We got there late Friday night, and that's when we found out that Don had neglected to inform us that we were hiking in – everything had to fit in the back packs. So we set up camp for the night, packed up in the morning, leaving the chicken and milk behind and hiked into the Gorge. Within about an hour we were hopelessly lost. I almost drowned crossing the falls, but luckily one of the guys was holding onto my back pack and kept me from going over. They hauled me out of the water, and we decided to cross further down. Then Don almost stepped on a 5 foot rattle snake. Man – it WAS HUGE! We scrambled through underbrush for hours and hours – look at my arms. You should see my legs, they are worse! Oh, and some bug bit me on my back – hurt like the dickens. Can you check it later Madre? So, when we finally stumbled out back onto a trail we told Don we had had enough and high tailed it back to the car and came home. And THAT’S why we are home today instead of tomorrow. If you don’t mind – I think I’ll take a shower and go to bed."

I will never doubt the strength of a Mother’s prayers and especially those of our Mother Mary. Thank You Mary – for hearing my prayers and praying with me so that my boys and their two friends came home safe and sound!

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