I was miles away from any help. I’d accepted an invitation to hike in the Altai Mountains of Russia with my daughter, three friends, and three guides with horses that were carrying our tents and bags.
We were in the middle of nowhere. We’d flown, driven, and then rafted to the trailhead. And now we had been hiking for several days to the base camp below the highest peak in Siberia. The problem? Painful blisters on my toes, which made walking brutal. My hiking boots were just not right—a fact that was painfully clear to me after a long downhill section—and they were the only ones I had. With no obvious way to get out of the situation—I couldn’t ride any of the pack horses out of this distant, outback tundra, and that was the only mode of transportation there was—I was stuck.
I’d found myself in a very anti-religion environment where there was no dependence on God.
Though I grew up going to a Christian Science Sunday School, and my grandmother was a Christian Science practitioner, prayer wasn’t something that would have consciously crossed my mind at that point in my life. As I’d moved on to college, I’d found myself in a very anti-religion environment, where there was no dependence on God. So for forty years I’d been away from Christian Science and any thought of God or spirituality.
But there in that remote wilderness, some of the things I had learned as a child suddenly came flooding back. The first prayer that came to me was the 23rd psalm: “The Lord is my shepherd …Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me” (Psalms 23:1, 4). God was right there! How else could I have remembered every word of that pertinent psalm?
Then came the Lord’s Prayer and its spiritual interpretation by Mary Baker Eddy (see Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, pp. 16–17). With it also came the clear understanding that I wasn’t alone or helpless. These ideas were my help. They were a power. I sang some of Mrs. Eddy’s hymns. I remembered “the scientific statement of being” (see Science and Health, p. 468) and other key ideas from Mrs. Eddy’s writings. I prayed with them for hours.
Finally, when we reached base camp, I sat back and just reveled in the view of the magnificent mountain that we had come to see, along with the new understanding of my unbreakable oneness with God. After all these years, God was still just as much the present, powerful divine Love I’d known during my childhood.
With this feeling of God’s presence came a surprising solution to the problems I’d been having. My daughter offered me her boots, which were two sizes smaller than mine. It seemed unlikely, but they ended up fitting well and made walking possible. And my boots worked for her. We all successfully and happily completed the eight-day hike. But a more significant result for me was the rekindled desire to know God better because of this experience.
After all these years, God was still the present, powerful divine Love I’d known during my childhood.
My return to Christian Science after this wasn’t exactly easy, but it was decisive. With four family members who are doctors, there were questions and skepticism about my sudden shift to a spiritually based way of thinking and living. But I knew that God was leading me forward through this “remote wilderness” with the same tenderness and power that I’d experienced in my own literal wilderness. And over time, these family members have seen clear proofs of the effects of my prayer and study of the Bible and Science and Health.
I’ve sometimes asked myself why I ever left such goodness behind in the first place. Ultimately, though, those reasons—and the time it took me to return—no longer matter in light of what I have now. Who could have guessed that the trek in the mountains of Siberia, and its trials, would start me on the path back to learning more of God’s love and protection? Just when I thought I was the farthest I’d ever been from any help, I was actually the closest—to a new certainty of God’s perfection, and each of us made in His likeness.