Not far along, the winds picked up and the snow pummeled me on every side. Through the white winter void I could detect nothing. Every step through the snow gained additional weight and not long thereafter I strained to move at all. Lifting my eyes to the heavens, I whispered, “Help.” It was all that I could muster of my strength to say. My soul inwardly groaned the rest of my desperation.
It became apparent to me that I would die mere days before completing my task. My strength ebbed and I fell to my knees. My mind numbed over, joining the creeping unfeeling in my limbs. The strong desire to sleep overtook anything else; I could think of nothing other than rest.
I felt pressure beneath my arms and shoulders, as if being lifted up. I expected to see that vicious face of my blue-eyed creditor, smiling in triumph. Yet warmth entered me through my skin and radiated to my bones. This man’s eyes were so kind, full of compassion, gazing upon me in all of my wretchedness. I had never seen him before, nor did I think I would ever see him again once my eyes fell upon his shining white robes. His skin shone like the sun, and he warmed me in his embrace.
Opening my mouth, I tried to speak but he hushed me and I fell limp in his arms.
“Your prayers have been heard. Your many kindnesses are witnessed. It is in your hour of need I have been sent to you.” His voice hummed and soothed my aching spirit.
He carried me, but for how long I could not know. I wanted nothing else but to remain with him; I wished he would take me.
His laugh rose up through his chest as if responding to my thoughts, and he spoke in my ear. “This was not the plan for you. The thief comes to destroy, but I have seen your heart. I have admired your beauty. You must live, for I require it.”
He required me. No person before had ever said such lovely things. Immediately I felt ashamed of my haggard appearance. I brought this upon myself by making a deal with the cloven hoofed thief. Desperation will guide a woman to hard decisions, but now I realized my decision was wrong. I could have walked away, not responding. Knowing now who the thief really was, I understood that the only power he had over me was that which I gave him. The thief walked me to the gates of this devilish deal, but I made the decision…and that was my fault.
We entered a clearing where a small cabin stood alone among the trees. A thick gout of smoke rose from the chimney like a gray pillar fastening the sky to the earth. This sweet angel of my rescue laid me at the foot of the door.
He spoke to me one last time. “You will yet see your way through this my child. And before I depart, I will give you a gift of my own.” He kissed my forehead. “You are worthy of love.”
As I lay upon the snowy steps of the cabin, I watched him walk into the skirted tree line and vanish. My eyes closed, shutting out the glow of the white night.
I remembered something my father used to say: When snow falls, no bad men come out at night.