The Traveler and the Storm
by Misti Chancellor
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She stood on the side of the mountain, the flowers and grasses around her rippling like waves as the wind blew softly through them. The leaves rustled anxiously on the trees. She shivered, and pulled her jacket tighter around her. She could feel the storm building. The clouds were growing into great fluffy heaps in the distance and turning dark with rain, standing out in contrast against the sun-brightened landscape in the valley beneath her. She shivered again, not from cold, but from the feeling of foreboding that was raising goosebumps on her skin.
She scanned the landscape again, trying to find the source of her disquiet. As she looked down into the valley, she saw a small figure on the road below. She watched his progress absently for a few moments, then scanned the rest of the valley. Turning her eyes to the horizon once again, she saw the great black clouds were looming closer. The storm was closing in. Her eyes drifted back to the traveler on the road below. The sun was shining brightly on his path, and he walked leisurely, seeming to enjoy the scenery around him. She saw him stop once or twice to skip a stone in the brook that wound its way along the roadside, and every so often he would investigate the plants nearby.
Thunder rumbled in the distance, and she lifted her eyes to the sky again. The clouds had moved in closer while she had been watching the traveler. She turned her eyes back to the sun-lit road. The traveler seemed not to notice the storm that was moving in. Perhaps he had not noticed the rumble of thunder as he stood beside the babbling brook. As she watched, he turned and made his way back to the road, continuing on his journey at the same leisurely pace as before.
She continued to watch as the sky grew blacker and stormier, casting a shadow behind the traveler on the road. The shadow overtook him just as he reached the foot of the mountain and began to climb. At first he did not seem to notice that the light had grown dimmer and the wind stronger. He continued on as before, stopping to consider the life around him. A gust of wind blew against him, and he stopped in the path to look around him. She observed as he began to notice the change in the weather, and zipped up his jacket to ward off the chill of the wind. Bending slightly against the wind, he continued his way up the trail.
As the storm increased in intensity, and the traveler was buffeted by the wind and rain, she began to pray that he persevere and reach his goal with safety. Turning quickly, she went into the house behind her and picked up her battery powered lantern. Pulling on a raincoat to protect her from the storm that had not yet reached her place on the mountain, she went back outside to watch and wait and pray. As she watched and waited, her brother slipped from the house to join her. Together they stood and watched the travelerís progress through the storm. It was hard to see him through the curtain of rain that fell on the road below. They took turns holding the lantern, hoping that the light would penetrate the storm and guide the traveler to their home and shelter. They stood for a long time, the rain falling down and soaking the ground around them, the wind blowing the pelting drops against their faces, the thunder rumbling overhead and lightning flashing in the distance. Soon, they saw him coming up the trail. She handed the lantern to her brother and sent him to meet the traveler, while she headed into the house to find food and drink and blankets for the travelerís well-being. They soon returned to the house and stood in the entry way, a puddle of water dripping from their clothes onto the tile floor. Her brother took the traveler off to his room to try to find him some dry clothes, while she mopped up the floor.
As the storm raged on, they sat in the safety and comfort of the dwelling, warm and dry, and spent the evening playing games and enjoying the camaraderie that only friends can share. Before they called it an evening and headed to bed, they stopped to pray together and to thank God for bringing the traveler, their friend, safely to his destination, and to ask for continued protection from the storm throughout the night. When they woke in the morning, the storm had passed and the dampened landscape sparkled and shimmered in the sunlight.
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