The after-Christmas snowstorm had blanketed a wide patch of rural eastern Pennsylvania, and Chris Clark Davidson probably should have waited until the roads were plowed before she, her mother and her two small sons attempted a drive. But Chris’ grandmother lived alone more than 100 miles away and couldn’t get out to the store to buy groceries. “We’ll be fine,” Chris assured her mother. “We’ll take that shortcut that we use all summer.”
However, Chris had forgotten how narrow the short-cut road was, especially with drifts piled high and wind blowing snow across the fields. When another vehicle roared around a curve. Chris swerved and skidded into a snow bank. The other car kept going.
The wheels spun uselessly as she tried to pull out. “Mommy, are we stuck?” toddler Philip asked from under his blanket in the back seat.
“Looks that way, honey,” Chris admitted. They had only seen that one car since they’d turned onto the shortcut. How long would it be before someone came along? How long before the freezing temperature invaded the car’s interior? And why, oh why, had she worn stylish open shoes instead of warm boots?
Chris got out, her almost-bare feet plunging into a high drift, and looked around. Lord please send us some help, she prayed. Then she saw it—a silo and barn roof about a quarter-mile away. “Mom,” Chris leaned in the car, “I’ll walk down to that barn and see if anyone’s there. Keep the kids warm.” Her mother nodded, her face worried.
The journey was incredibly cold and by the time Chris pushed open the barn door, her feet were icy. A welcome blast of heat greeted her, along with the mooing of heifers in their stalls. It was a working dairy, clean and well organized, with a shiny window fan circulating the air. Although she had passed it during previous times on the short cut, she had never really taken a good look. Now, she realized with joy, there were young male voices coming from behind a stall.
Maneuvering around the livestock, Chris followed the sound and came upon two farmhands in overalls and flannel shirts, kidding and teasing each other as they pitched hay. They stopped and smiled when they saw her, and quickly she explained the situation.
“Stay here!” one said, tramping past the cows, grabbing his jacket and going out the door. A moment later, Chris heard a horn honking in front of the barn. There he was, driving a blue pickup truck. “Get in!” he shouted.
Chris hesitated. She didn’t know these men, and her family, down the road, was vulnerable. Yet, there was something so merry about the men that she couldn’t feel afraid. She and the other farmhand scrambled into the pickup and bounced down the road. There was the car, her toddlers bundled up and Mom waving. The driver roared across the field, spun in a wide circle and screeched into position behind it. “Way to go!” his buddy yelled.
Chris gripped the seat. “Do you always drive like this?” she asked, only half-joking.
The driver shrugged. “Well, it ain’t our truck.”
Within minutes the men had freed Chris’ car, and she opened her purse to reward them. But both backed away. “It was our pleasure, Ma’am. Just drive safely.”
Not like you, Chris grinned as she pulled away. But their happiness was infectious, and they were wonderful guys.
Chris didn’t realize just how wonderful until several weeks later when she and her mother decided to make a return visit to her grandmother. Since the snow was almost gone by then, the shortcut was safer. “When we get to the barn, I’d like to stop and let the guys know we made it to Grandma’s that day,” Chris told her mother. But when they pulled up in front to where Chris had climbed into the blue truck, she could hardly believe her eyes.
The barn was vacant, shabby, with paint peeling and door hinges hanging loose. Bewildered, Chris wiped away a heavy film of dirt and cobwebs on the milk house window and peered inside. Where were the heifers, the floor littered with fresh manure? Even the fan was rusty.
“You couldn’t have seen any farmhands or cattle there,” the woman at the next house told Chris. “No one’s worked that property for years.”
Chris got in the car. “Am I crazy, Mom?” she asked, bewildered.
“No.” Her mother was firm. “This is definitely the place.”
Then how….? Suddenly Chris understood, and like the shepherds at that first Christmas, she was filled with awe. Her angels had worn blue jeans and flannel shirts instead of white robes. But they had delivered the same timeless message to her and to anyone willing to listen. Fear not! The Savior is here! Alleluia!
Copyright © Joan Wester Anderson