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By Tim Newark & Angus McBride

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It was Pam, and Pam was certainly herself that night, completely herself, no more or less than a good and in most ways an ordinary woman with whom I had come home from England and camped in the Okefenokee, and above all, with whom I had enjoyed playing dreadful duets in my own exercise room. 2 For me, in that hard time, Pam was not only a good friend and a woman like myself. ” As the Abbas and Ammas who, by their nonjudgmental sympathy, lifted the most dreadful burdens of blame and self-recrimination from the shoulders of those whose paths they crossed, Pam’s love carved out for me a space in the wilderness in which it was safe to breathe and accept in trust of God’s good love, what I thought was my own impending death.

Panic rising, I stamped my feet and blew out a breath. I reached up and slapped my chilled jaws one at a time with a muddy hand. My face stung from the slaps and my hand hurt from the embedded grit and cuts. The pain of it filled me with relief. The rest of the world had disappeared; I might actually be dead. But I hurt, and hurting told me that my body, at least, was still joined to the rest of me, was still mine. With this discovery the darkness around me began to come to life with the beneficent sound of human movement.

Sometime very soon after I lay down and was covered with her socalled space blanket, Pam shook me gently to wake me. “Roberta, we have to go on,” she said. “Jeff is only wearing a T-shirt and shorts. His knee is beginning to freeze up and the temperature is dropping fast. ” Awake at once, I reached for my paddle and pulled myself up, noticing as I did so that, though I was wet to the skin from the water that had condensed on the metal blanket, I felt amazingly much better than I had the few minutes before.

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