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Angel at the Track

 

It all happened so quickly. Deep in thought and oblivious to her physical surroundings, Marilynn strolled onto the railroad tracks. Suddenly, she heard a loud rumbling noise. She looked up, only to discover that she stood directly in the path of an oncoming train! Marilynn froze, literally paralyzed with fear. The train was so close that she could actually see the terror struck face and the blue eyes of the conductor.

Marilynn never forgot what happened next.

"It was as if a giant pushed me from behind," she said. "I went flying off the tracks and fell down on the cinders just beyond."

Slightly bruised, Marilynn got up to thank her rescuer - but there was no one in sight! Her conclusion?

My guardian angel saved my life," Marilynn says. "Who else could it have been?"

 

Angels On The Cliff

As told by: Chantel Lakey


"Oh God, help me!" I cried. "I don't want to die!" I clung desperately to the side of the sheer cliff, my hands and feet searching for a firm hold anywhere amidst the loose shale as slippery as black ice in the thin rain. I must not let go, or I would be dead, just like, just like . . . I didn't want to think about it; I tried to push the thought aside. But it rose up in my terrified mind's eye like a recurring nightmare, all too real.

...just like Dale. Somewhere, hundreds of feet below, amid the rocks and the rising ocean tide on the beach, lay the body of my fiancee, Dale. Just a second, a heartbeat ago, he had been beside me on the cliff, below me, his hand steadying my foot as he sought out a secure descent for me. And then, without a cry, he had lost his own footing on the loose shale - and he was gone. Just like that. I had craned my neck at the sound of his fall, the rocks bouncing and slithering after him. He didn't say anything; then I saw his head hit the rocks. His body went limp, and then he passed beyond my view.

"Oh, God! Oh, God!" I screamed at the top of my voice, although only the rocks and the trees above and the surf below could hear. "No!" And then, "Please, God, I don't want to die!" But I knew there was a very good chance I would.

How could this have happened? I thought. Dale and I had been visiting his cousins who lived just outside Eugene, Oregon, and were returning to San Diego, where we lived. We had both enjoyed our visit so much. It was a great place for someone like Dale, who was athletic and fit, who thrived in the out-of-doors, and who never turned down a challenge.

I settled back into the car for the long drive home as we headed down Highway 101, the Pacific coastal highway. The coast ward side was densely forested, with steep cliffs overhanging the coast itself. But shortly after noon, Dale, his enthusiasm for the region running high, said to me, "Look, Chantal, why don't we stop for a while? There's a trail near here I'd like you to see. I've been on it before, but no one's ever climbed to the top with me."

The trail he had mentioned was a deer trail that led from the roadside up to a spot called Lookout Point where you could see the ocean on one side and the forest on the other. It was near Humbug Mountain, and the closest town was Ophir. Gold Beach was about fifteen miles furhter south.

"That might be fun," I agreed, and he pulled the car over. Together we hiked the trail to the top, admiring the wild and rugged scenery all around.

"Why don't we take the trail down toward the water?" Dale suggested, looking at the rough path that appeared to descend the cliff. "I think we can make it. What do you say, Chantal?"

I smiled and started to follow him as he headed down the trail. Very soon, however, we realized what a foolish thing we had done. The path was not a straight line down to the ocean-it was fast becoming a sheer cliff lined with loose shale and rock. By the time we had reached a point where the path ended and the cliff proper began, it was too late to turn back. There was nowhere to go but down. As if to add to a predicament we were just realizing was serious, it began to rain, a soft, light drizzle that turned the loose rock as slippery as soap.

"How's your fear factor, Chantal?" Dale said. "Do you think you can make it?"

"Yes, I think so," I told him. "Let's try." It was hard to judge what might be ahead, but we couldn't turn back.

For a short way we went together; then, as the descent became steeper and more treacherous, Dale decided that he would go first. "You follow me," he said. He would take a few steps, testing the way, then help me as I followed him.

It was hard going, especially for Dale. Every movement of mine from above dislodged a shower of dirt, shale fragments, and pebbles that hit him and bounced off his head and shoulders before falling to the beach so far below. We were still near the top of the cliff, and the going had become even more treacherous. Dale inched his way down and his foot found a tiny ledge. "How's your fear factor now?" he asked.

I said, "Oh, I'm fine."

"Well, let me help you." He reached out his hand to guide my foot toward the ledge, and as he looked up at me, he simply fell off the ledge and to his death on the rocks below. Just like that.

I screamed and screamed. This can't be happening, I thought. But the nightmare of my life had just unfolded before my eyes. My fiancee, whom I had always considered to be a superb athlete with enviable coordination, had just been wrenched from my life and from my heart.

As I saw him fall I screamed in terror, clutching the loose rock desperately, and pressing myself back into the wall of the cliff. In a heartbeat, everything in my being- body, mind, and spirit-went totally numb. Suddenly, I was totally alone; I had never been so alone in all my life.

Soon - I don't know how long, really - the sounds of the falling rock faded away, and out of my shock and terror I heard only the sound of my own desperate, heaving breaths and the rain falling on the cold, bare rock all around me. Suspended between heaven and hell, in my own sudden purgatory, I had no idea what to do. Climbing up was impossible, and I had no idea how to descend the face of the cliff.

"Oh, God! Please don't let me die that way! Please help me!" I screamed again. I had no particular faith in the being that others called God - the Almighty had not played a big part in my life until that time - but I think desperation draws out of us deep feelings we never knew we had.

And as I screamed out my terror to the impassive sky and the unfeeling rock, I suddenly felt as though the gateway between heaven and earth had opened upnd I saw angels all around me like a wall of protection? holding me, closing in around me to keep me from falling off the cliff.... I knew I was not alone on that cliff and I was grateful.

But gratitude cannot bring a stranded rock climber down more than four hundred feet. I clung desperately to the rock, too afraid to do anything . . .  And yet the very next thing I remember is looking up and seeing the cliff high above me. Somehow I had managed to descend a cliff of more than three hundred feet of slippery wet shale safely, and I was now about seventy-five feet above the beach. I have no idea how I did it, but I am convinced that the heavenly beings who had surrounded me high on the cliff had supported me in some way as I came down. I felt their presence all around me.

But when I reached that point, suddenly I found myself on the verge of falling, just like my fiancee. My feet lost their footing?and I began to slide helplessly down the face of the cliff, out of control, unable even to slow my descent. "Oh, God, no, please, not now!" I pleaded. I knew that, even if I wasn't killed outright by such a fall, I would be terribly, and probably permanently, injured. At that very moment, I felt a heavenly hand supporting me from behind, and my fall suddenly stopped dead. I stopped sliding entirely, and I was able to make my way down the rest of the cliff without incident, God knows how.

I now knew that the angel that had saved me on the high cliff were still with me, bearing me up and finally leaving me safely on the beach. In retrospect, in my mind it seemed to have taken many hours, but since the sheriff's rescue team arrived at the cliff in late afternoon, it couldn't have taken quite that long.

I was numb with shock and terror, as I approached my fiancee's body. I knew at once that he was dead. Wandering the beach, I finally found another deer trail that led me, through briars and brambles, up the hill and toward the road, where I somehow managed to flag down a passing motorist. I don't know where the strength came from. I firmly believe that angels were still supporting and helping me. I could sense their presence which stayed with me for the remainder of the day and well into the night. Then my intense awareness of their presence slowly faded, as though they knew I finally understood that I was safe and could deal with the situation, as awful as it was.

The motorist who stopped took me straight into town and to the sheriff's office, where I poured out my story. At once a professional rescue team, with all the equipment and mountain-climbing gear necessary to effect a rescue, was assembled and set out to find my fiancee's body. But when they came to the edge of the cliff where he had fallen to his death, they could not go down that route. In their professional opinion, the route of descent was impossible, even with all their ropes and special climbing equipment. They had to return to town. Although I was scratched and bruised, I was not seriously injured. The next day a helicopter was flown in directly to the beach, and Dale's body was brought up.

"Chantal, you're a living, breathing miracle," one of the rescue-team members said to me later. "How you got down that rock face safely is beyond me. Even we couldn't do it - and we're trained to climb almost anything."  I later learned that cliff face was considered particularly dangerous in that area, and that a number of well prepared  climbers had also been killed while trying to descend, as Dale had.

I recovered slowly from the horrific ordeal. Now, more than a decade later, I still have bad moments. But it awakened in me the unshakable realization that God exists, and that God is not some impersonal force but a loving, caring Being. Until I found myself clinging to the cliff for dear life, I had never understood that. But as I felt myself surrounded by angels, I knew that God not only existed but had sent those protective beings to get me down safely from the face of certain death and disaster. I realized too that they had always been with me to assist me and follow me throughout life.

Whenever I have a bad day or it seems things aren't going the way I'd like, I remember how blessed I am to be alive, and I remind myself that my angels are still all around me. Life is precious and beautiful, and I'm so grateful mine was touched by angels.
 


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