Ashley stared at the flap-like piece sticking out of the gigantic formation. She’d heard about the strange growth from some of her cycling friends, but did not believe them. Instead, she decided to ride out into the desert by herself to see it; proof was in the sighting – or so her parents had always said. So, she loaded her backpack with a towel, sunscreen, snacks and water and rode her bike eight miles out of town to get a closer view of Paddle Rock. It’s weird! I wonder how that happened.
Ashley had been raised by atheistic scientists who had an answer for all of her questions – up until she had become a teenager. Then she would ask questions they could not answer, like from the Big Bang Theory: How could something come from nothing?
She fought with her parents as they tried to convince her, which created distance between them. Their theories did not make sense to her, so she began a spiritual quest to fill the small void she felt in her chest. Searching the book store, she bought books on Druids, Wicca, Kabbalah, Astrology, New Ageism, Becoming a Shaman, Crystals, Tarot, Mystic Wisdom, Buddhism and many others. Over time she read them all, but each time something still felt missing.
At college she ended up on a dorm floor with a bunch of Christians, some who were bicyclers, like her. She was uncomfortable talking to them about her lack of spiritual upbringing, even though a few were interested in her story. Sometimes she got really frustrated with them because there were days when all they talked about was Jesus. If he is so great, why doesn’t everyone follow him?
One morning, after an extremely difficult exam, she awoke with a headache. She decided to skip class and stay in bed. Waving goodbye to her roommate, who would be gone for several hours, she rolled back toward the wall and closed her eyes.
As she lay in a half-dream state, the face of Jesus, sheathed in luminescence, floated before her and said, “You are my child. I formed you in the womb and know every bit of you. You are well loved.”
Ashley woke up. Her head felt groggy, so she sat up, shook it, rubbed her eyes and wrapped her arms around herself. Did that really just happen? Did Jesus just talk to me? That’s weird, my headache is gone already.
Since she was not sure if she had just had a dream, or if it was indeed a vision, she got up, walked over to her roommate’s desk and borrowed her bible. She had heard the girls talking about the New Testament, so she opened up to Matthew and began to read. The words rang of truth and she began to feel the hole fill.