I've had some deep thoughts on my mind the last couple of days. Some of you might have heard the story of the missing hiker here in Georgia, Meredith Emerson. Her story has made the national media and unfortunately, the outlook for her safe return is grim.
In case you don't know about Meredith, she disappeared New Year's Day while hiking in Vogel State Park. She and her dog were hiking up Blood Mountain, a trail that connects with the Appalachian Trail. Other hikers reported seeing her talking to an older man that day and he has since been arrested for her kidnapping and murder.
The part of this story that hits home for me is that my family and I have hiked that trail many, many times. It just seems wrong that something so horrible could happen in such a beautiful spot. A spot frequented by nature lovers. People who are usually kind and generous. In our years hiking in that spot, we've struck up numerous conversations with other hikers as we stopped to catch our breath or take in a particularly spectacular view. Once when climbing we somehow forgot to bring water -- don't ask me why because I don't remember the particulars of how we managed to be so dumb. But a man and his companion heard us lamenting our stupidity and graciously offered to share their limited water supply with us.
I know our parents have drilled into us from the time we were small -- don't talk to strangers. But the older we get, I think the less inclined we are to follow that advice. I'm sure that Meredith thought this man was "safe." Even on New Year's Day there lots of other hikers on the trail. He was a fellow hiker. He had a dog with him. Even in my mind those things give him legitimacy. Would I have spoken to him had I been hiking alone? I don't know. Maybe.
And there's another girl missing in my town. Similar story. A female graduate student, Cayle Bywater, completely and utterly disappears on December 29th. Friends found her dog running loose, the door to her house open, and her keys and wallet on top of her car. Although the cases are eerily similar, the police don't believe there is a connection, though they are investigating the possibility. Cayle's case is complicated by the fact that she is bipolar and friends and family worry that she has stopped taking her medicine and may have wandered off. The last people to see her were some families playing in a local park. They noted that she looked disoriented and that she was looking for her dog, but they don't know where she went after that.
I lost Bubba once, when he was about three. It was only for about two minutes in Wal-Mart, but it seemed like an eternity. My heart stood still and everything was moving in slow motion yet sped up at the same time. Nobody was moving fast enough for me. They didn't seem to feel the sense of urgency that I felt. My body couldn't keep up with my brain. I felt like I was going to die. I thought, "This is it. This is how it happens. Someone has taken him by the hand and walked out the door with him and I will never see him again." The whole rest of my life flashed before my eyes in that moment. How would I live without him? How would I get up and go on the next day? How would I ever return to any semblance of normal life? But he was found, in the arcade of course. And I was immediately angry with him for running off and so glad to see him at the same time. I may have hugged and spanked him at the same time.
So I'd just like to ask that if you pray, please pray for the families of Meredith Emerson and Cayle Bywater. Please pray for Cayle's safe return. If you don't pray, please take a moment to think of these families and their enormous pain. And go give your kids an extra hug and kiss.
5 years ago