The whisper floated through the firs and down the slope, tickling Chelsea's ear. She shivered in her sleeping bag. Yeah, God, I know--"Be still". She tried harder to empty her mind.
Her tent kept out the chill wind, but canvas doesn't block sound.
Wait, that's not You, is it?
She fumbled for her zipper tab and emerged from her cocoon. Her sweats were waiting and she pulled them on and wrapped up in her granny's trusty quilt before undoing the door flap.
The zzzzzrrrriiIIIP silenced the early morning bird and bug chorus, and one final SHHH.....SHHHHHH echoed off her tent and across the narrow meadow.
A voice. "Helloooo? Anyone home?" Definitely male. Definitely close.
Lord, if that's not your angel, please protect me.
Chelsea peeked out, and gasped. Her unexpected caller stood not two feet away staring back at her.
He had lifted his goggles, and she saw that his brown eyes were crinkled at the corners. Is that kindness I'm seeing, God? Or not? I can't tell. Impossible to tell much with all that ski gear. Ahh, skis! That explains the shhshh's.
"What're you doing here?" she called through the canvas.
"That's kinda what I wanted to ask you."
This is silly. If he's an axe murderer, a tent's not going to stop him. Chelsea slipped on her clogs and stepped out. "I came here to get away from the noise, but it's not working."
"Oh, my fault I guess."
Was that a friendly wink, or a sinister one? "No, that's not it." Chelsea blushed and stared into the forest. "I wanted to get away from phones and TV's, doorbells and...and people. I wanted to hear God. But it's not working--the noise in my head--it won't shut up. Yap yap yap. I don't know how to make it stop, to 'be still' so I can know God. And I do. Want to know Him."
The words had come out in a rush, and Chelsea glanced into those confusing eyes then back at the trees. "I'm sorry. I don't know where that came from."
"People're usually like that around me. It's OK--I'm pretty good at keepin secrets. It comes with the job."
"Ahh. 'The Job.' CIA? FBI? KGB?" Chelsea looked around the wilderness. "Underground anti-initial militia cell?"
His laughter rang through the trees. "Not even close. David," he said, and stuck out his hand. "I pastor a little church down the hill. You aughta come. Sunday morning 'n all, ya know?"
"No, I don't think so, but thanks. I need to be alone. And listen."
"There's more'n one way to 'be still'. There's nothin like worshippin in song to help you hear better." David slid his goggles down and set his poles. "I gotta go, but you'll likely be seein more of me."
"Didn't I mention I came here for privacy? And quiet?"
"D'you know happen to know where 'here' is?"
"Yeah, I scoped it out--that dirt road I took isn't even on the map. That's why I'm here. It's private." This time she didn't look away when she met his eyes.
His smirk said he had a secret. Not the reaction Chelsea was expecting.
"Just so happens that dirt road is my driveway, and 'Here' is my mountain. Sorry, but yer wrong about the privacy."
The sun moved behind a cloud, shrouding them in shadow. Chelsea shivered and tugged Granny's quilt tighter.
"You're welcome to stay, tho," said David. "Hope you hear what you're listening for. And if you change your mind about church, go back to the main road and take a right--we're down just a ways on your left."
Chelsea watched him push off and ski across the meadow, still uncertain about what she'd seen in his eyes.
She'd poured her first cup of coffee and settled into her camp-chair by the fire to try again--be still and listen--when strains from a pipe organ wafted uphill. She couldn't make out the words, but she heard them all the same.
"Amazing grace, how sweet the sound..."
'Listen. Be still. Know.'
Chelsea heard again the strange pastor's words: "There's more than one way to 'be still'."
A calming of body, a relaxing of soul. A choir sang familiar praises in Chelsea's mind, accompanied by the heavenly music traveling on the crisp air.
'ssshhhhh. Be still. Do you know?'
Her heart opened, and she heard her Lord.
And she was still.
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