In the early 80's, after living in Utah for many years, I returned to Colorado Springs as a newly divorced single mom. It was not an easy time in my life for many reasons. I did not have an education and could not find a job that would pay a wage I could live on. I had been through a devastating custody battle that split my family of five children down the middle. The two older children remained with their father in Utah, while the three younger children and I lived in Colorado Springs.
I was surrounded by many loving family members and friends who supported me emotionally, and spiritually during this difficult time. Money was very tight, but there were a few things that the children and I could do that always seemed to make the time we had together special. One of those things that always was hit was visiting the Garden of the Gods on a Sunday afternoon. The kids loved scampering around on the paths through the rocks.
On one of our visits, I recall that I was feeling especially down. I felt helpless, and I seriously wondered if life was ever going to get a little bit easier. In need of some time of solitude, I walked through a part of the park that I could recall from childhood. I remembered walking down this same path on a Girl Scout outing many years before. Lost in thought about happier times in the park, I happened to look at these beautiful red sandstone outcroppings jutting heavenward.
I was alone as I stood in front of this interesting formation. I thought to myself, "I feel like I am between those two rocks. Yes, I really feel like I am between a rock and a hard place."
My eyes did not seem to be able to remain on the enclosed area. Instead, I found myself looking heavenward where the formation seemed to be pointing. Suddenly, the words to a hymn filled my mind and soul. "Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me." Yes, here it was: the cleft in the rock. A visual representation of that place of protection, providence, and safely replaced the old image of being trapped with no way out. I was filled with comfort, hope and much peace.
My life did get better - much better. I was able to get not just one college degree; I ended up earning three. I married a prince of guy who treats me like a queen. I worked in a rewarding and fulfilling profession. My children have made wonderful lives for themselves. I have seven wonderful grandchildren.
This past year, as a family, we have been through more trials than we ever hope to see again. I lost my beloved daughter. All of us are learning to live without Julie's beautiful smile and great personality. We are going through much pain due the breakup of a marriage. I know that at times, I have felt like I was revisiting that metaphoric place of being between two hard places, but truthfully, I have been reminded over and over that the "cleft in the rock" is the safest place to be. Many times all I can say is, "helpless, I look to thee for grace." I hide myself in Him.