Prickly Prayer

by Coleen C. Heaton

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    No, I didn’t want to take just a minute to pray. But I’m glad Mom did.

    The alarm jangled while I groped through the darkness to shut it off. Even at that early hour, I jumped out of bed with anticipation. I was eager to join my friends on a hike up Timpanogos, a large, snowcapped mountain which overlooks Provo in Utah Valley.

    The hike followed steep switchback trails, then a climb up a sloped snowfield near a sheer drop-off and a slide down a glacier. The reward was a well-earned picnic by the crystal waters of the tiny lake fed by the glacier’s runoff.

    My mother got up early with me and graciously fixed breakfast, packed my lunch, and fussed around making sure I was properly prepared.

    Eager to be off, I was a little impatient when she asked me to come back to the bedroom with her. I think I even rolled my eyes a little when she knelt by the bed and invited me to join her. At 14, that sort of thing can seem sort of sappy. But I truly did love my mother with that prickly heart of mine and was secretly pleased by her concern.

    She gave a simple but beautiful prayer asking the Lord for my safety and protection that day. It touched that sometimes rebellious heart of mine. Embarrassed to show my feelings, I ducked my head and wiped at my eyes.

    I hiked that day with a glow in my soul. I had been reminded what a special mother I had.

    On our way back down the mountain, someone in our group decided it would be much faster to take shortcuts between the switchbacks, even though we had been warned not to do so at the beginning of the day. We all followed like sheep.

    Midway between the trails, someone above me started a small rock slide. Pebbles and stones and a few larger rocks showered down around us. Then, as if in slow motion, I saw one fist-sized rock knock sharply against the shoulder of the boy just above me. The rock bounced around me, then catapulted to strike the girl in front of me right in the back of her head. A gash was opened and began bleeding profusely as head wounds do.

    Slipping and sliding down to the next trail, my friend was helped by a fellow hiker who donated his handkerchief and first-aid skills. Careful now to abide by the hiking rules, we eventually made it down the mountain and home.

    I’ve never forgotten that day my mother knelt with me, and I believe I was spared injury because of her prayer. Deep down I knew she loved me, but since becoming a teenager, I’d lost communication with her. I’d become independent, “prickly sensitive,” and sometimes difficult to get along with. I was finding it harder to feel my mother’s love. But on that clear morning a strong bond was forged between us by prayer. It made all the difference then and later to know my mother was praying for me.

    Painting Quaking Aspens, Aspen Grove, detail, by John Hafen. Courtesy of Springville Museum of Art