March 16, 2010


I almost lost my son this weekend. It was a beautiful day. The family was taking our first single trail hike along the Kern River in Central California. It was breathtaking. The river is awe-inspiring and rafters come from all over to wrestle with its white water. There are caution signs along the road leading to the water that remind adventurers to always wear a life vest. The is another sign that marks that just under 300 people have drowned in the fast water. Awe. Fear. Wonder. These are the perfect recipe for our 5 boys to have a grand time hiking along this body of water.
The trail was unlike any I have hiked along so far. Narrow, covered in shale and stones to make footing "challenging" and always along some sort of drop off. The "cliffs" were no less than 2 feet and in some places as high as 20. I found myself constantly grabbing at our youngest to make sure he stayed safe.
Half way through the hike we descended to the waters edge to rest a few minutes before heading back. Our boys were delighted. The older boys learned to skip stones, or sat quietly while the youngest 2 stood upon rocks while throwing stones across the water. I kept thinking, someone is going to slip...
Sure enough, just after I moved closer to them our 6 year old lost his footing. Plop. There he was screaming in the freezing water grasping for the shoreline rocks. I simply reached in and pulled him from the freezing water. He was fine, just stunned, soaked, and shivering cold. We assured him he was ok...
I have reflected about this a lot. This river claims lives every year. It is swift and powerful. Where Sam slipped the current was strong and deeper than he knew. He was weighted down by a backpack and all his clothing. He is not strong swimmer. The water was freezing. I could have ignored the prompting I felt that caused me to come and sit on the rock right next to the boys as they played. He could have been gone in a spilt second.
I almost lost my son. Almost. If it were not for the grace of God, today would be a very different day. Just under 300 other people have visited the same river and had their lives transformed forever.
I am thankful that mine ended as an "Almost" so I can better appreciate today...

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