HIDE ME IN THE MOUNTAIN
By Angeline M Duran Santiago
The news and weather channels had spent the past three days alerting everyone on the island about the incoming storm that would most likely not be a false prediction. Some families had stored food and covered their homes with boards while others had packed up their most important papers and valuables, and moved on, away to where many were saying the storm wouldn't hit so aggressively.
The airports were filled with people trying to get a one way ticket to anywhere but here and streets were jammed with all size vehicles attempting to get as far away from the coming tempest. The latest report said the storm, some predicting devastating waves, perhaps even a tsunami, would be fierce and without mercy upon the island in less than two days. Without warning, the internet and all media was interrupted, panic began to run through the streets like a swarm of bees, and people blindly lost their way. Many panicked and just ran into the first home they saw. Some closed their doors and ran to hide in a safe room. A few had created underground shelters and cried in their shelters while many banged and cried out to them to open up.
Everyone, even beast small and great, felt the thunderous sound of incoming winds and waves that drowned the voices of worry and fear. The sirens were like the soft sound of butterflies, and emergency workers trying to direct people and traffic with the latest speakers and technology seemed like an unseen treasure buried in the soil while busy ants just hurried around them without a purpose or destiny.
Nayim held her three children close to her as she walked through the trees. The path had become darker as the clouds walked down upon the island. Her children cried and she shushed them, reminding them of safety up ahead. The whispers in the night had told her not to wait two days but to begin her journey as the sun announced the new day. The whispers of someone ancient and as old as time had awakened her, pushing her to pack her belongings and run to the mountains. "But how?" She had questioned. "How could safety be up in the mountains where the winds would be the most violent force before her?" Still, the message in the wind had asked her to trust, to rise, and go towards the mountains.
Believing that the ancient voice might have been a heavenly messenger, she chose to ignore neighbors who called her crazy and here she was, with her three children, climbing and pushing against the winds. At times, not knowing which direction to take, it seemed the path would be made clear just as she felt like giving up. A light would show the way, trees would unexpectedly seem to move away from one another as if they were doors, opening and inviting her inside. Her children cried and complained. They were tired, exhausted, with cuts and scrapes on their legs and knees.With love and patience, she reminded and promised them of a safety she did not see, of a promise she had only heard about, and of a mountain top that would be a refuge.
"Oh, but to stand on the mountain and be blown away. Can it be that I am being asked to sacrifice my children and myself by going to the top and realize it was all a bad dream?" Over and over, many times, doubt came. As the winds became fierce, cutting away at them, making the leaves and large grass blades move against them, cutting away at their arms and faces. "Oh, Lord, show me what to do." she cried. She reminded her children to pray and to believe.
Up they went and soon found themselves upon the mountain top. Alone. Forsaken. To meet their end. Surely the winds would blow, the waves would rise higher than the mountain top and take them away. She told the children to stay near the ridge of the mountain near some trees. She decided to walk to the side and see if there was any way of finding their purpose for being there. Surely, not even God would have played tricks with her mind and have asked her to go on a suicide mission during the worst weather.
As Nayim neared the side, an old man, dressed in tattered robes, came around and stood before her. "Come. Come quickly. Take the children and bring them closer to me!" the old man shouted. "Bring them closer to the top?" Nayim realized this was madness as she discovered she was not only on one of the highest mountains on the island, but that she stood in front of the ocean. The vast waters swooshed and moved dangerously around the island, promising to rise higher and higher as the winds enabled them to. "How can you ask me to bring them up to you when the winds are getting higher? My children will fall into the waters below." Nayim cried out back and refused to heed the old man's advice. "Hurry! You are going to have to trust me when I tell you I have prepared a hiding place for them, but be quick about it. Time is not on your side."
With tears in her eyes, she looked at the man who reminded her to hope and believe that strangers could possibly be angels in disguise. Although fear was winning as she grabbed her children, her oldest spoke out, "Mom, don't be afraid." Feeling her strength and courage renewed, she held on to her three children with all her might and began to help them walk sideways on the mountain and towards the old man. "Don't look down. Keep your eyes on him." Nayim encouraged her children and celebrated each step. At times the wind made her voice disappear, but still, with her eyes, she reminded them to keep their eyes on him as he opened his arms and beckoned them to move towards him. As the children got closer, she began to see an entrance into the mountain and smiled. Surely, the Lord had provided a hiding place for them.
The old man reached out to her children and one by one, assisted them to help them carefully enter the opening in the mountain. As her last child, her youngest was entering, he seemed to lose his footing and her mind saw him falling. Moving quickly, she forced her tired weight to press upon him, pushing him upward into the entrance. He held tightly on to the exposed rocks and spaces. It was in that moment the old man looked at her and she knew she was either going to fully surrender her trust in him, or let go. Allowing her heart to trust in his eyes, she allowed his ancient arms to wrap around her youngest child and hold him in place, turning ever so quickly so that her child was against the entrance and the old man was now with his back upon her child.
Feeling she would not make it through, she smiled, hoping the old man knew that he should watch over her children should she lose her life as the waves continued to escalate upward and with greater strength. "Hold on to the cleft. Hold on to the side and don't let go!" As she saw his eyes widen, she turned to look around and stood against the mountain. It was there she witnessed the ever increasing and growing waves. The waves rose like giants awakening from slumber, rising from their beds and getting on to their feet. Waves rolled upward into the skies like darkness fighting the sunlight and commanding shadows to take over the island. Nayim pressed her entire body against the mountain side, knowing the old man had somehow made sure her last child had entered the hiding place. As she pressed her already bleeding skin against the mountains, the old man came around to her side and smiled. She closed her eyes as the tsunami rose against her, cold, cutting away, stealing her breath, crushing her lungs, pounding upon her face, and stealing her spirit away into the darkness.
"Save me, Lord." Nayim whispered into the disappearing spaces as the waters covered her and everything around her. She felt the crashing and the beating of angry waters, somehow punishing her for daring to stand against the storm, mocking her for remaining at the mountain top while others had run and hidden. "Hold on," the ancient whispers sang around in her head. "You are not alone."
The howling of the winds began to whimper, and like a scared dog, began to run away. Shadows covered their faces and moved away as the sun pushed through. Nayim's knees had given out and she found herself bent against the mountains, somehow in a crouched position, soaking wet, pain filled, but still alive. As she felt the warmth of the sun beaming upon the island and her skin, she opened hurtful and burning eyes to see the rays of light coming forth from the Ancient One who stood on the side of the mountain. He smiled and invited her to come around and go check on her children. Tired, famished, and weakened, Nayim dragged herself towards the side of the mountain and crawled towards the Old Man and near the mouth of the mountain. There were her three children, resting upon rocks, covered in blankets, dry and with smiles on their faces. Sleep had overtaken them and they had perhaps not even know the storm had come and gone. "Thank you," she said, barely unable to speak the words. She turned around to tell the Ancient One she was so grateful. All she saw was his back as he somehow walked away, disappearing into the mountain side.
Nayim was so exhausted, she crawled in near to her three children and allowed the exhaustion to make way for sleep. She entered into a deep sleep as if there were no cares, no worries, only the song, the invitation to trust, trust in the Ancient of Days, to call upon Him who was always near, to learn to hide in Him, to always cast all her cares upon Him for He would always make a way.
Maybe Nayim and her children are real. Maybe they were all part of a dream. Maybe Nayim's experience was just a warning of a storm to come and to show that even if the tempest were to come with a destructive plan towards this family, or any family, at the end, those that trust in the Name of the Lord will be saved. It is my hope and my desire that my short stories will inspire you to believe, to turn to God, to get excited and interested in seeking and finding out for yourselves if this Great Awesome God I talk about is not only real, but worth all my time in writing these, perhaps silly, short stories. Maybe, just maybe, Nayim and her three children are really me and my three kids. Or perhaps, this is a story about you. If it is about you, then you know how it ends. You and your family are in God's hands, and he waltzes away with the music of heaven turning into a lulluby for you and your family, as you enter celestial resting time. The storm will always come, but isn't it great to know that so will He, the One that rides upon the storms, and the One that speaks to the storms and says, "Peace, be still." You decide if you are in my story or not, if it is about me, or if it just a message challenging you to trust and hope in Him, while the storm rages on. But, remember, the storm will soon cease and die and you will rise again.