Relaxing Through the Mountains

EDITOR’S NOTE; Today we welcome Babara Lee to “Walking With Jesus!”

Relaxing Through the Mountains

Barbara Lee, MSET

6 This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. 

7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. 

8 Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

 Psalm 34: 6-8.  (Source:



Sometime near Resurrection Day at the start of the millennium, I was driving to a colleague’s home before driving with him in his car to a work-related conference. I was on “Skyline Drive” which is a two-mile-high, serpentine road, with two lanes. On one side was the precipitous drop, and on  the other side the perpendicular wall of rock. The surrounding view from the mountaintop was of a green land neatly divided into fields and squares with a small-town underneath, but it was “suicide” to look down while driving. Skyline Drive had one lane going up the mountain and the other lane going down with no physical division between the lanes but with constant twists throughout the two miles. From above, I assume  that the road looked like a lazy, peaceful, serpent relaxing in the sun on a grassy field with a “full- tummy”. In the springtime, verdant trees covered everything; and in the fall, the land was awash with colors as the trees changed shades.  The picturesque scenery was gorgeous from the incline unless . . . .

…at the top of the mountain, my brakes completely failed! There was no apparent cause since the car wasn’t “that ancient”, and had been maintained on schedule, yet my foot pedal just went to the floor. I panicked, (briefly cursed), and prayed, something like, “Oh ****, Oh God!!” And then I was “off to the races”! 


On a road which was constantly used, I was able to swing the car left and right down the narrow pathway, until at the end of this “suicide ride”, I thought briefly about taking the car into a local shopping center’s parking lot until it would slow to a stop. As the weight of the car started pulling it backwards into oncoming traffic, I THEN REMEMBERED the emergency brake and pulled the car to the side and engaged the emergency brake.  It was at this time that the local police stopped by on the other side of the road, and the officer asked if I needed help.

 My first thought was, I could have used your help a few seconds ago! But I said, “I am contacting my mechanic.” Since my friend’s husband was an auto mechanic, and the road was all uphill,  I was simply calling him to see if he was available. 

Pete, my “expert mechanic”, examined the car and said there are multiple, “redundant” systems to prevent this from happening and asked if he could send the parts to the manufacturer. My comment was, “Take any parts, but can you fix it?” He gave me the estimate and time and drove me, his overwhelmed friend, home.

I purchased a new car thereafter and remembered the lesson. I could have been hit by a car going up the hill or hit someone else as my car was flying “out of control” down the hill. I might have been pushed over the sheer cliff or have hit the sheer rock face; yet neither one happened. Angels provided a safe path for me down since God had His purpose. 


How often are we oblivious to God’s clear signs and displays of His love, protection, and provision for us? It may not be as obvious as clearly as that experience. We run outside to do our daily tasks without a thought about giving God thanks, see a picturesque sky and don’t think of The Maker, and then eat delicious food and not recognize Our Provider. If you were a parent of a child who constantly refused to show gratitude, how often would you keep giving more? If you had family members who rarely took time to take their head from the electronic devices, would you graciously give them more? Yet, Our Father wants our simple thanks. 

When we recognize His Power, Authority, and Glory; God wants to shower us with even more blessings. Our Creator doesn’t need us since He could clearly make “children of Abraham” from rocks (Matthew 3: 9). But He wants us as family, and He chooses us as His friends. And for those who choose to follow His Heart, God invites us to grow and mature through those choices. 

Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology explains who the “Angel of the Lord” is from ( Most people, when they see an angel, are struck with fear. The “Angel of The Lord” carries God’s messages and is identified with God. This angel can be a messenger of good or evil, but always does what is right. In Genesis 16:7-14, the Lord’s angel tells Hagar to return to Sarai. The angel of the Lord also pronounces a curse on people who “refused to come to the Lord” (Judges 5: 23), puts Israel’s enemies to death (2 Kings 19: 35), and commissions Abraham to confront Pharaoh (Joshua 5: 13-15; Exodus 3: 5) about withholding the Hebrews, “God’s only son” (Gen 22: 11-18).

Far from such a powerful angel, God provided me with an angel when I needed His protection and provision.  God is “no respecter of people”, and I am no closer to God’s heart than any other child of God. I am quite certain that we sometimes feel that the vehicles of our life are so “out of control” and all we want to do is put the brakes on the vehicles that appear to be carrying us down the precipitous mountain; but we must try to remember that  though we may want to put on the brakes, God can always send His angels to safely escort us to His place of safety and joy. 

Dad’s Coat: A Christmas Story

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ ‘ (Matthew 25:40, KJV)

Editor’s Note: Last year, December 2021, I sent this to the faculty at my school. Brother David, who was now serving in Detroit, responded with this note: I will never forget the way that God used me as a tool in this story. Angels are still with us. 


Allen and I are wrapping Christmas presents, enjoying a “Dad moment” as we remember the crazy shapes Ron would wrap presents in so no one could guess the contents. Allen sticks a bow onto a gift–just a plain old shirt box–and whispers to me conspiratorially, “I already knew what I was getting Dad for Christmas.”

“Really?” I say in surprise. “Dad died in July. How could you already know what he needed?”

Allen sighs. I know he is processing the words that will make sense to both him and me. Reconciling himself to his father’s death five months ago has not been an easy process and he is still uncertain of Heaven. 

“Back when I thought Dad might come back…” his voice catches “…I was thinking that Dad needed to be safe and protected. You know, from all the illnesses and stuff.” He looks at me for confirmation and I nod. “So, I wanted to get him a big coat–like the firemen wear–to protect him.”

As always, I am touched by the heart of my autistic son whose concern for his ill father was a focus of most of his life. It is a moment before I can trust my voice to answer. “I am sure Dad would have appreciated that,” I say. “But you know, we gave Dad a new coat last year.“He only wore it once.”

Allen does not reply. He picks up another gift to wrap. “I still wish I could give Dad something.”

So do I, I want to say. But a person who is living in the Heavenly Kingdom has no need of material items. Still, how could we honor Ron and his life? I begin to recall the gifts of years past and the many, many years when we had no money to give anything to each other and scraped together Christmas for our kids. Then, a thought enters my mind.


“You know,” I say casually, “my school is collecting things to give to the homeless population in

Philadelphia. Every Tuesday, Brother David takes a group down to Center City and gives out hats and gloves and scarves.” I take a moment to fight back tears. “How about if we give Dad’s coat away?”

Allen considers it. “We’re sure Dad won’t need it?”

I shake my head. “No. Dad has no need of a coat. You know where he is, Allen. You know he’s not coming back.”

There is a sigh. Allen’s acceptance of his father’s death is still tenuous. “I know,” he whispers.“Sometimes I just like to pretend he is.”

“That’s okay,” I say. “It’s okay to pretend that. So, what do you think? Should we give Dad’s coat away?” I go on wrapping presents as his atypical mind processes the information.

Finally, there is a nod. “Okay. Can I be the one to put it in a bag?”

“Of course,” I say.

The next morning, I pick up the bag Allen has left on the enclosed porch and carry it out to the car. Even though I was the one who suggested it, I am strangely reluctant to give the coat away. It seems so final.

I bought the coat a year ago with hope: hope that Ron’s physical therapy would help him improve to the point where he might be able to leave the house; hope that with assistance  from his nursing aid and the elevator at church he might once again be able to join me at Sunday services; hope that a few small steps taken outside on the sidewalk might lead to a walk around the park, a Saturday in the spring sitting on a park bench watching the boats sail down the Delaware River, a family outing to a Phillies’ game. 

None of which happened. I feel the weight of the lost hopes as I heft the bag into my car and drive to school, my eyes smarting tears, my heart breaking. I carry it into the school and it sits behind my desk, an accusation. Why did I continue to hope? Why did I continue to think things would get better?

Finally, I ask a student to carry the damning bag upstairs to Brother David. I can breathe easier when it is gone. Back home, I only tell Allen I have given the coat to the school.


During the days up to Christmas–my first as a widow– I struggle to maintain some Christmas cheer. I engage with my students and the Christmas traditions of a Catholic high school in the best ways I can: the Ugly Sweater Day, the cookie exchange, the Secret Santa pick. At home I collapse after supper, going to bed early and waking up still tired. I plod along, expending emotional energy at school and with Allen, and helping my two older children as much as I can. I pack away more of Ron’s clothing for the Good Will donations and I order his grave marker at the cemetery. I put up a small tree for Allen and me, I unpack decorations.

 I function.

It is the day before school breaks for Christmas and I am getting my classroom ready for the students that arrive before the first bell, students who are still learning English and crave the warm safety of my ESL room. I am humming “O Holy Night” and taking deep breaths whenever I think of my late husband.

 Ron loved Christmas. Everyday, I swim through the thick memories to surface with my students.


I am switching on the lights when Brother David appears at my door. “Merry Christmas,” he says. “I wanted you to know,” he continues, “that your husband’s coat found a home yesterday. We were able to give it to a homeless man who was very appreciative.”

My heart swells even as tears spring to my eyes. I can feel Ron’s warm smile bathing me. My husband had a generous heart.

“But it’s amazing how it happened,” says Brother David. “We’d had the coat a few weeks, you know, but we didn’t meet anyone that needed a 4-X coat. Then, on Tuesday, a large man came by and said he’d been looking for a coat but he could never find one to fit him. He said he didn’t often come down near City Hall, but someone he didn’t know  told him to come see us.  So he came down and there we were. And your husband’s coat fits him perfectly.”

I nod but find I cannot speak.

“He said,” Brother David continued, “that he’d been offered some construction work over the holidays but he knew he needed something warm to wear. He’d just about given up finding a coat. He was wearing a couple of sweat shirts, but that’s all he had. When we gave him the coat, he cried. He said it gave him hope that he could turn his life around.”

I am crying right now, realizing that the hope I held for the coat I’d bought for Ron had been fulfilled after all. Brother David reaches out and hugs me. All day, I hide this gift in my heart, thinking of how my son will react when I tell him his father’s coat is now protecting someone else.

Back home again, Allen has hot tea ready for me and I settle into my chair. “Dad’s coat found a home today,” I tell him. I tell him the story from Brother David. Allen  smiles, then is thoughtful for a moment.

“We should hang up Dad’ stocking,” he says. “Because it feels like Dad is still here.”

“He still is,” I say as Allen dives into the box of Christmas decorations to retrieve the stocking. “And he always will be.”