My life has been blessed with angels who protect, guide, inspire and heal.  In fact, I’ve have actually been ‘saved’ at least four times.  The season for snow is fast approaching in the Chicago area.  The thought reminds me of an experience from the past where guidance was desperately needed.  My youngest son and I would occasionally cross-country ski together. On this particular day of my story, a strong wind and dark clouds foretold more snow for our area.  Although I was hesitant about the weather forecast, my son enthusiastically urged me on.  We drove to a forest area of largely unmarked ski and hiking trails just outside Chicago.
Looking back, I remember we began our adventure in the early morning. Although the cold was already penetrating my skin after a couple hours of skiing, my son suggested we explore the trail further. I hesitated but agreed.  At first it was fun, but several hours later, I couldn’t find a familiar marking due to the falling snow.  I realized we were lost.
Without flare, matches, or whistle, and seeing no place to take refuge from the storm, I was very concerned for our safety.  I knew the temperature would plummet further as day turned into night.  I also remembered a recent newspaper report of a pack of wild dogs in the area.  Not knowing what else to do, I prayed out loud for help.  My son got down on his knees as well.
Suddenly, in the vastness of what appeared as an endless white landscape devoid of human activity or animals, two forms appeared in the distance. From their clothes we assumed one was male, the other female, but otherwise their features were indistinct.  They motioned us to follow them. We were stunned and grateful.  You see, during our entire adventure, we had not seen one human soul.
I was exhausted.  We had been trudging through banks of snow for hours.  The two motioning us to follow them never said a word.  This was strange.  In fact, they kept their distance.  For some reason, I didn’t think about it at the time.  I only wanted to be somewhere warm and protected.  My entire focus was on gripping my son’s hand, literally for dear life, and surviving. I remember falling a few times as a result of exhaustion.  I have never liked cold weather.
Night had fallen by the time we finally recognized a familiar sight…the shack near the spot where I had left my car. In that instant of recognition, our rescuers vanished as mysteriously as they had appeared…without a trace and without a word.  I repeat…no other people or cars were anywhere to be seen, only my car and a shack.  In that moment of isolation and loving rescue guided back to the car, I just knew that the figures that unexpectedly appeared in the distance motioning us to follow them were angels.  Who else would be out at night in a heavy snowstorm beside us? Obviously, only holy beings, guardian angels!
We both cried out to the sky words of deep gratitude and immense relief!  The next day, I
 revisited the ski rental shack and told the attendant our story.  She was stunned.  As a result of our foolishness, the park district placed an order for markers to be installed along a trail that would be safe for the experienced skier and the inexperienced adventurers like my son and I.
Always trusting,
Shirlee Hall