Elijah had spent days getting ready for his trip to Heavenly Falls. He had been promised by his parents that on his thirteenth birthday. that he and his dog, Doug Fir, could hike and spend the night at a place of their choice; just so long as they would return the next day. They were to take a phone and GPS to use if they ran into any kind of trouble.
They both had taken many hikes before with friends an family, but never by himself. In a real way Eli thought it was his first move into manhood, and into freedom. He was yet to realize how true that really was.
That morning found him carefully packing his backpack with the necessities; jacket, sleeping bag. knife, dry food, canteen, and oh yes, matches. He was not going to rub two sticks together hoping something would happen. Dougie reminded him of his needs as he went to the cupboard. Well, Eli said to him ; “You’are going to have to carry it yourself “, as he slipped it into Dougie’s pack along with a handful of treats.
By 9:00 the sun had come out and they headed for mom’s car that was going to take them to the camp. In twenty minutes they were are the trail head.With a hug from mom, and a “Call me and noon and 5:00” they headed up
Eli had brought his harmonica and was soon making music as they moved along, taking note of everything they saw: Beautiful wildflowers, movements and sounds of the birds…. and the rustling of the wind through the tall trees.
More than all of that…….. the smell of freedom!
At the halfway mark they removed their packs and rested on a big rock before taking on the steep climb. Several other hikers passed giving curious looks at the pair. One, nearly as old as Grandpa, asked Eli; “You up here by yourself?”
Eli reassured him that he was thirteen, and had full permission from his folks. He showed him his phone and GPS. The Grandpa replied: “Sure wish I could have gone on my own at your age, but those things weren’t around. You goin’ to the top?”
Eli assured him; “That’s where the falls are” He waved and took off again sounding his harmonica to “Row,row, row your boat”… Doug leading the way.
Within the hour they were making the turn where you could barely see the falls, but they could hear the sound of it crashing down upon the lower rocks…. then into the pool. Doug could not wait. With a bark he sprung forward, pack and all, into the cold water. He looked back at Eli with a “You better not! ” look, then splashed back on shore; the wet pack hanging under his belly..
Eli turned to setting up camp. Close enough to hear the wonderful sound but far enough not to get soaked by the mist. An earlier experience left that lesson. Four branches were used to suspend a plastic tarp that mom had slipped into his pack.
That done, he called his mom;’ With “Thank you for the tarp and everything is super” assurance.
After a quick lunch of a sliced apple and some dried beef, ( also offered to Doug who was going to have to wait for his food to dry from the earlier episode)…… they decided to check out the falls. Someone had told him that you could actually walk behind them….Maybe later, they figured.
As the looked up at the falls, admiring the sound and power……suddenly;
Whoa! there were flickers of light coming from behind the sheets of foam and water.
“Oh, it couldn’t be!” burst from Eli’s lips.. Doug pushed his big body against his leg; then retreated to the tent.
Yes, it was fire moving outward mixed with the water… like fingers reaching in Eli’s direction. They could not take their eyes off what had to be a miracle.
If that was not enough….suddenly the flames disappeared, and a figure dressed in white appeared , arms open in invitation.
Eli could not speak at first, but finally gasped; “Who are you, and how can you do this?”The figure said ; “Who do you say that I am?” Eli returned,”Oh no, You are not Him? The response; ” I am……that I am.”
Quickly, Eli’s brain recalled what he had been taught in Sunday School.
‘YOU ARE GOD; OR….. JESUS” ?
The answer: ‘Yes, I am….I am both. If you see me as Jesus, you see your God who has prepared a place for you in this world and the next. I have made you and your path in life.”
“It was no accident that you are here in this place and at this time. It was my plan for you to be here….. even before you were born. Come stand with me and I will show you your path to manhood.”
Eli rose and joined him. He gazed into the pool….. now completely still, the flow having stopped, and reflecting not just two of them, but there were four figures including himself. He knew what this was about from reading the bible when it spoke of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
The waterfall began again. as did water from each of the eight outstretched hands.
“It is the living water that God promised!” Eli exclaimed as he leaped forward into the pool. I had become warm and he lingered there for a long time, bathing in it’s remarkable comfort. As he returned his gaze upward, he saw only one figure, now suspended on a cross…..his blood trailing down into the pool.
A voice sounded; “Go tell this story to others” as Doug joined him there.
It is enough to say Eli did not spend the night. He gathered his things and set forth for home immediately.
He stood taller than ever before as he danced along with a “Praise God from whom all blessings flow” melody on his harmonica,
He had work to do! A story to tell . ” There will always be another waterfall,” he reasoned.
“Well maybe not……..of course not ”