By Mercedes Kirkel
This past week I went on a hike with my good friend, Susan. We chose a trail by the San Francisco Bay that Susan used to frequent but hadn’t been on in a number of years. The weather was beautiful, the wildflowers bursting forth, birds gracing our path, and all seemed wonderful.
After hiking for a while, Susan asked how I was doing because my back had been sore earlier that day. I appreciated her reminding me because I was enjoying our time together so much that I’d forgotten all about it. But it seemed wise not to overdo, so I decided to head back at a slower pace. Since Susan still had energy we agreed she’d hike a bit further and then meet me back at the car.
I had a leisurely walk back and was resting in the car when I got a text from Susan. It was brief but didn’t sound good: “Got in some difficulty on way back. Route changed & wading through tall weeds. Sorry & wish me luck.” I wasn’t clear what had happened, but I sensed danger. I asked if there was anything I could do, but she said she didn’t think so.
About 15 minutes later I got another text: “OK. Now I’m scared. Dead ended at water.” I still wasn’t sure what had happened, but now I was scared, too. I asked her if she could turn around and come back and she replied “Sort of but so tired.” I didn’t like the sound of that.
“Should I call 911?” I asked, but she responded “Not yet.” I told her to conserve the battery on her phone and she let me know she was turning it off.
So I waited.
Ten minutes later she texted, “Maybe yeah, call them.” I didn’t need a second request. By now my heart was in my throat.
I’d never called 911 before, but I was so glad to be able to call then. I went through a series of relays and soon was connected to the local police department. They said they’d send a ranger and I should flag him down when I saw him.
As soon as the ranger arrived, I got a text from Susan, “I’m back at the road!!! Can you cancel?” I relayed this to the ranger, but since the trail was actually a fire road, he thought it was a good idea to drive in and see if she needed help. As soon as he said it, I knew it was a good idea.
It wasn’t till I saw them emerge at the trailhead that I could finally let out how scared I’d been. Even as I write this, tears are coming to my eyes. I was incredibly grateful to the ranger for driving Susan out, as she was in fact extremely exhausted—physically and emotionally.
After we calmed down Susan shared the full story of what happened. She described losing the trail and bushwhacking through weeds up to her shoulders as she trudged through swampy wetlands for over an hour, praying for help and guidance all the way. But the really remarkable part was what happened when she finally found the road again.
At that moment, she heard a deep voice that told her, “You’re never alone.” And suddenly she felt surrounded by myriads of light-beings who were all loving and helping her. She started sobbing as she felt some of them right up against her body, and sensed thousands of others filling the landscape. The message came that in some ways we are aided by incarnated beings, such as Mercedes and the park ranger, and in other ways by unincarnated beings. Both are available to us.
I wasn’t happy that my friend went through all she did that afternoon. But I was in awe and gratitude when I heard her describe her spiritual experience.
When I asked Susan a few days later if I could share her story, she said, “Sure, I guess it could be helpful for some people.”
I responded, “I believe every reminder that we’re not alone is helpful. It’s so easy to forget.”
To which she replied, “Amen to that.”
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