Visiting writer, Deborah Shouse is a writer, facilitator and creativity catalyst. Her stories have appeared in Reader’s Digest, Newsweek, Family Circle, Women’s Day, the Washington Post, and MS. She has been featured in dozens of anthologies, including many from the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Deborah facilitates The Kansas City Star’s FYI Book Club and writes their weekly love story column. Deborah is the author of Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey.
Our spiritual “walkabout” began at the Bass Pro Shop in Olathe, KS. Ron and I were headed out of town for three weeks of hiking, camping, prayer and contemplation in the glorious national parks of Utah. We hoped for a sense of spiritual renewal and connection with God. But we were tense about our tent. The night before, we had practiced pitching the new purchase in Ron’s bedroom. Despite our best efforts, the shelter looked catawampus. On our way out of town, we decided to drop into Bass Pro, where we had purchased the tent, and ask for assistance.
Dennis, in the camping section, put off his lunch break to walk us through the four poles, the center rod, the mounts, hooks and clips.
“I like to use a dome tent,” he said, as he put in the last clip. “They’re much easier to put up.”
Soon he was walking us through pitching a tent with only two poles and almost nothing that could go wrong. We swapped tents. As we got ready to leave, we thanked him again.
“I believe I’m still alive so I can help people get comfortable in the woods,” he told us.
He told us about a near-death experience he’d gone through in his twenties. Several years ago, he said, he’d been diagnosed with myasthenia gravis, a debilitating autoimmune disorder. Despite this setback, he went into the Alaskan wilderness and used his survival skills to subsist for three months. The trip had strengthened him.
“I’ve been camping since I was a kid,” he said. “Nature is one of my sources of strength and solace.”
We shook hands and asked his last name.
“Wise,” he told us.
So a “wise man” at a sporting goods store was our unexpected angel that day.
We were reminded that angels are everywhere, if we can just remember to notice them.