It’s Memoir Monday, and the story pulled out of the hat of memoirs this week is one about downhill skiing.
Or the lack thereof, as it may be.
After sharing the account a few weeks ago about how I almost died while whitewater rafting on a trip with my dad, maybe I shouldn’t mention that this memorable event also happened while on vacation with my dad.
It wasn’t that he was a negligent father, by any means.
It just so happened that all of the exciting stuff transpired on his watch.
But I digress.
So, we were skiing out west. There were five of us on that trip — me, my dad, his girlfriend, and two of my sisters — and on that particular day, the conditions were less than desirable.
It was icy.
Patches of sheer ice and downhill skis don’t mix well, in case you wondered.
The sharpened blades of my Rossignols scraped like fingernails on a blackboard, sending chills up my spine.
My dad skied on ahead, then stopped midway. Standing parallel to the mountain and facing the rest of us from below, he waved his pole frantically to the left, signaling to the rest of us who were still skiing down.
I watched his wild pole wavings and noticed that the snow-covered trail split like a Y intersection into two different runs, divided by a mini-forest of pines. Assuming that his flailings to the left meant that we should go that way, I took his silent charades advice, and steered myself down the appropriate path.
Or, what I thought was the appropriate path.
I was singing to myself for a while before I looked around and realized I didn’t recognize any of the jackets passing me. I stopped mid-mountain, the chair lift at the bottom in full view, cables running up the slope to my right.
Turning around, I shielded my eyes to the sun and scoured the whiteness for any sign of familiar forms.
No dad, no dad’s girlfriend, no sisters. Couldn’t see a single jacket I knew.
I turned my focus to the bottom of the mountain and scanned the colors in line at the lift.
Hmm, that’s odd, I thought to myself. I must’ve really been wrapped up in my song.
I concluded that they must have made it to the bottom before me somehow, and gotten on the lift without realizing I wasn’t with them.
Possible, I thought.
So I started scanning every chair that swung in the blue sky, drifting lazily up the mountainside, convinced that they would realize where they lost me and come back the same way.
Twenty minutes later, I was still standing in the same spot.
I purposely didn’t sit down, because a) my butt would’ve gotten cold; and b) who sits down on the middle of a ski slope?
So there I stood.
Next thing I knew, the lift op at the bottom was yelling up the mountain, “Are you Kate?”
It took me a second to register that she was shouting to me.
“Yeah …” I called back.
“Your dad just called. He’s taking a bus to come get you.”
I just started laughing. A bus? Seriously?!
Sure enough, about twenty minutes later, my dad rocked up — not upset, but not exactly with his tail between his legs, either.
Turned out his ski pole charades were actually pointing out a patch of ice that he was warning us to avoid by going around it, not by veering off to the left trail entirely. Then I learned they had skied all the way down to the bottom of the mountain, stored their skis and gotten hot dogs for lunch before they realized I was missing.
I say this all in jest because we’ve laughed about it since the day it happened.
But looking back through slightly more mature eyes, this story mirrors the Father’s love for us.
My earthly father was willing to take a bus to come get me when I was lost on a vast mountain; how much more has my heavenly Father done to find me and save me when I was lost in a vast sea of darkness and sin.
The parables of the lost coin, the lost sheep and the lost son in Luke 15 are perfect examples to illustrate the “rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents.”
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
Photo credit: Thomas Depenbusch