"IF YOU can't make this move, don't run this rapid," our experienced river guide called out to the group. Then he shoved off with his canoeing partner to show us the proper route to take. They made it look easy.
It was Sunday afternoon and we were halfway through a two-week kayak and canoe trip down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. That morning we had climbed up seven tiers of rock ledges into a beautiful side canyon, where it was cool and quiet, in stark contrast to the usual canyon heat and the noise of the rushing river and rapids below. We spent about 15 minutes in silent contemplation. Normally, I would have been in church on a Sunday morning, so I decided to spend my time quietly praying. I rejoiced in God's presence and power and gave silent gratitude for feeling part of Church, even in that isolated wilderness.
Grand Canyon rapids can be intimidating, and the rapid we were running that afternoon had a very large rock in the middle. Our guide let us know that it was essential we take the route to the right of the rock—the left run was too dangerous. As I pulled out into the river and began the descent into the rapid, I was faced with an overwhelming sense of fear. I remember saying to myself, "God, help me!" Although I was feeling anxious, my cry reminded me of God's everpresent help. In her book Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy wrote, "In divine Science, where prayers are mental, all may avail themselves of God as 'a very present help in trouble." Science and Health, pp.12-13. She was quoting here from Psalms: "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." Ps. 46:1. In the many years that I have been practicing Christian Science, I have come to know God as a refuge—a shelter, or protection, from distresses of all sorts. God, Spirit, is present with us always. And from past experience, I know that when I reach out to God with a plea for help, it is both heard and answered.