The Place by Anna Johnson

I quietly got out of my Chevy pickup truck. Stepping down into the dirt with my sandals and lower layers of my dress swarming in a cloud of dirt, I didn’t care and started to wander. 

I wandered along the dirt path quietly, following the twists and turns. I consistently looked up to see if I was getting close and looked down to ensure I follow the path closely. Holding daisies in one hand and my keys in the other as I walked slowly. Feeling a warm summer breeze graze across my face, I began to feel like I was floating. Like my feet had risen just a couple of inches off the dirt path. The Lord swept me up gently from behind, like a father saving a little girl from the dangers of something lurking slowly on the ground. He carried me along the path to the place only HE wished me to revisit. 

 I, however, did not wish to revisit this place, but rather to move on with my life. Despite my optimism, I felt as though the Lord wanted to teach me something.

 Older adults in my life have always quoted Psalm 23 to me.

 “The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

 He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul.”

I’ve always wondered what that meant. Being amongst this green daisy field and walking towards the stream that runs along the field, I realized it. 

As my feet lifted, I felt the emotional burden lift off my shoulders. The grief, the struggle, the anger, the sadness, the guilt, the shame, the quiet. I felt my long blonde hair flow in the wind along the plains and I felt the tears flying across my cheeks. 

I quickly became overwhelmed with peace, joy, mercy, and forgiveness. Emotions that haven’t filled me since before that fateful day. 

Suddenly, I awoke and arrived at this place. I find the trail of blood spots leading to the place where I found her that day.  Barely breathing so close to life and yet so close to death. My mind floods with vivid imagery of that day…

It was a quiet Sunday afternoon, Beth and I had run to the park nearby this field to sip our coffee and chat. Beth was like a grandmother to me, she had mentored me for years. We started to wander into this field along a dirt path. The field eventually led to a stream; little did we know there was a grizzly bear lurking on the other side of that river. We had begun to wander next to the stream and I had noticed something brown and seemingly out of place on the other side. Beth, being a nature fanatic, began to listen and look. Within seconds she realized that a bear was nearby. It was also consistently looking at us with increasing intensity. Beth was fascinated and wanted to get closer. Myself being more hesitant, I let Beth go ahead. So Beth cautiously walked across the stream towards the bear, getting her yellow dress muddy and wet in the process. Beth began to take note of the grizzly moving in her direction, but at this point, it was too late. The grizzly bear had locked eyes with Beth and leaped towards her, biting into the side of her abdomen. I froze. Then I fled. I ran as quickly as I could in the opposite direction. I could hear her screaming in the background. Once I got a decent bit away, my only thought was to call 911. Well crap. I don’t have service. I held my phone up to get service. Nothing. I ran back to Beth and the bear had fled and left her there. What was I thinking, running away? I noticed Beth was bleeding heavily from her abdomen. So I screamed for help multiple times and nothing.  So I tried to carry her, but I was too weak. So I sat with Beth and we prayed hoping God would spare her life. God didn’t spare her life, and that’s okay… I realize now. Beth died in my arms on that sunny afternoon…

 Her tender face felt pale and cold. Her bright yellow dress was blood-stained, wet, and covered with dirt.  I feel the rush of sadness and guilt overcome me. But as I sit down in the tall swaying grass-covered dirt with my long flowing black dress, I feel peace knowing although my earthly shepherd, the woman who had spent years mentoring me, was no longer here, I had a heavenly shepherd, Jesus, that would always guide me when I am led astray like a sheep.  

Although I am prone to wander… 

I see God’s abundance. Refreshment. Guidance. I take a deep inhale of new life. 

As I walk away from the scene, I glance down to see my black flowing dress becoming white inch by inch. Cleansing my soul layer by layer.