Family Fiction posted May 15, 2015

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on the road to shambala

by flylikeaneagle

James stood by the large picture windows, gazing over the open fields, to the purple tinged mountains beyond. Darkness would be coming soon, and with it a storm. He finished as a crack of lightning split the murky sky. He turned and threw another log on the open fire, sending a flurry of ash into the air. He refilled his whiskey glass and took a deep sip. He savoured the taste as it warmed his throat. He was trying to build up the courage to make that phone call he had been putting off all day. He reached for the phone just as it started to ring.

Hesitating, James answered. "How is Dad?"

David, replied, "Dad woke up at night and fainted in the bathroom. He hit his head on the bathtub as he fell. The EMT's took him to the hospital."

"How is he now?" James asked as he paced around the living room. He looked at the whiskey bottle. James promised Dad that he would stop drinking. He had a long list of forgotten promises in his life. James shook his head, no wonder he felt so alone.

"Dad is in the hospital. He's had a stroke. She wants you to fly home, now... James? Are you there, James?"

"Yes, yes, David, I will fly home on the morning flight. I will have to go through Chicago, O'Hare to get to Denver. See you in the afternoon."

"Mom and Dad need you. Remember, let go of your pain. You are welcome at home... James? James? James...?"

James swallowed hard, "See you tomarrow, David. Pray for Dad, God hears your prayers."

"Jesus hears yours too, James."

James slammed down the phone in anger. The lightning flashed across the sky. A few seconds later, the thunder shook his house. He looked at the whiskey bottle and threw it into the fire. The alcohol caused the fire to blaze. Life with the whiskey bottle covered the pain, he thought. "Misery loves company," he said outloud. He carried the empty glass to the kitchen sink. As he washed the glass, the chipped edge caught his right hand. Red blood splashed into the water from a deep slash on his hand.

James wrapped his bleeding hand with a clean dish towel. Remembering his father's words, "Son, you are just a step away from God's Grace. Trust Jesus on the road to Shambala." James thought about the times when his family camped out together. They liked to sing songs. "On the road to Shambala" was one of their favorite songs. He sat down and cried as the blood dripped onto the table.


Bags checked. James boarded the flight through O'Hare and onward to Denver. James was ready for the new day. He told his law firm that he was going to see his father in the hospital. James watched as the seconds moved on his Rolex watch. He hoped he could talk to his dad one more time. He hadn't seen his family for years. He had excuses, too busy he told them. He was always climbing up the ladder. He had a long list of famous clients. One more client he thought looks good on his personal resume. Yes, more clients means more money. Yes, busy...

David picked James up at the Denver airport. "How's Dad?" James asked. He looked at his younger brother. David was dressed in black jeans and a cashmere sweater.

David replied, "He's had a mild stroke on his right side, time will tell. The doctors agreed with Mom about placing Dad in recovery care."

James stared at his right hand. He had wrapped bandaids and white gauze on his wound.

"What's up with the hand, James?" David asked as he picked up the luggage.

"Wasn't paying attention to the glass when I washed dishes. The broken edge on the glass cut my hand. I was distracted while I cried for Dad."

"This was sudden, James. Lydia is with Mom and Dad. She's praying up a storm. She's praising Jesus for life and victory. She has praise music on her computer. She loves Teresa Crevier music with her five pianos. So Heavenly, Lydia calls this therapy music. The room smells of frankincense and orange oil. Lydia keeps saying that Jesus bought Dad with his blood. He's going to live a long, healthy and happy life."

"Yeh, my sis, the Bible banger. I guess I ran from God and chose the whiskey bottle instead."

"We all have our tests and trials, James. Your name sake is from James, count it all joy..."

"When your faith is tested, your endurance will grow, so let it grow..." David and James said together, smiling that they still remembered the verses they were taught as children.

"You are David, named after the shepherd boy who killed Goliath with a river stone." James said. "Lydia, was named after the woman who dyed fabric purple. She met the great Paul, the apostle, down at the river bank. Lydia funded Paul on his missions and had Hebrew studies at her house. Yeh, Mom and Dad named us after the great saints. I'm no saint, David." James said sadly looking down at the ground.


David and James arrived at the Denver Hopsital. Lydia met them at the nurse's station. The guys hugged Lydia and smiled. "How's Dad?"

"Dad is looking better. He's talking!" Lydia walked with the guys into Dad's room. They saw a glow about her face. She seemed younger as she moved like a young colt.

"Dad!" David and James hugged their dad and mom as they entered the room. Raphael smiled back. He had tubes in his wrist and oxygen in his nose.

"Raphael is a fighter." Mom stated. "This stroke was a wake up call. He will need some therapy and lots of rest."

"The doctor said take one day at a time." Lydia said. "But, we trust in The King!"

After the family visited for a while, David motioned for the family to get a bite to eat. Mom followed her family to the lunch counter at the hospital. She said, "Your Dad wants you all to have a gift." Mom told the three as she looked them eye to eye. "We planned to have a family celebration of our fifty year anniversary in August. When Raphael gets out of the hospital with a doctors ok, we will go to Shambala."

"What's Shambala?" James asked as he looked at everyone smiling. "Is this really a place? I thought it was just a Three Dog Night song."

Mom answered, "Shambala is a horse ranch and therapy retreat. Raphael loved riding horses. He had several quarterbacks and paints as a kid. Raphael won many trophies from barrel rodeo races."

"I remembered seeing the old photos as a child. I didn't know he still liked horses," James stated. "Horses!"

"He had to give the horses up when he moved to the city to start a family with me." Mom replied. "Yep, he loved the horses, but I won his heart."

Lydia stated with smile, "Horses are great therapy for everyone!"


A month later... Mom and Dad mounted gentle quarterback horses at Shambala Horse Ranch. Lydia, David and James rode the paints. They watched the sun coming down on the mountains.

Back at the camp, the camp manager, Dean had a dinner ready for the riders. Dean had a brisket meal with cheesy potatoes and grilled corn on the cob. The hands helped the riders off of the horses. They took the saddles and equipment off of the horses. Then, gave the horses treats, feed and water. The horses grazed in the fenced in pasture behind the ranch houses.

Raphael was happy that his family got to trail ride. The doctors said that he was a walking miracle. Raphael touched James. He said, "James, as my first born son, I truly love you. I always loved you even when you went through tough times and forgot about me. I bought the Shambala Ranch as an anniversary gift for my precious wife. She caught my heart fifty years ago. But, James, the ranch is yours to visit anytime you desire. Think of Shambala as a place to wash away your sorrows and your pain."

Lydia smiled at James, "This is a healing center with the horses. They have exercise, diet, light and music therapies. The center brings in different teachers and personally mentors people on their journey of recovery. You should see the sunrises, James and David, they are amazing! The golden light dances on the mountain tops and the lakes!"

James replied, "How do you know this Sis?" He looked at Mom and Dad with their salt and pepper hair. They were holding hands on the bench by the fire. James added more logs to the fire. James remembered the night when he threw the whiskey bottle in the ashes. He hadn't touched the whiskey once since that stormy night. His father was happy and healthy. Both were on the path to recovery, one day at a time.

Lydia said, "I prayed for a place for healing, James. Then, I heard the song Shambala, by Three Dog Night, on the radio. Let me sing it for you James...

<>< Wash away my troubles, wash away my pain with the rain in Shambala.
Wash away my sorrow, wash away my shame.
Everyone is happy, everyone is kind on the road to Shambala.
How does your light shine, on the road to Shambala?

David added the chorus, "How does your light shine, on the road of Shambala?"

Dean sang in with the family, "Ah, ooh, yeah!" He smiled as he sang.

The family joined Dean, "yeah, yeah, yeah!" Songs and laughter filled the mountain air.

"Dad, Mom and I came here last year and Dad bought the ranch" Lydia said. "We hired Dean to run the ranch, take care of the horses and the hired hands. Dean is an experienced ranch manager."

"David and James, meet Dean." Mom stated. "You are going to love this ranch!" Mom watched as the guys shook hands.

Dean smiled as he passed out the milk chocolates, crackers, marshmallows and sticks. Lydia noticed Dean's tall, muscular figure. She liked his chambray shirt with the Shambala logo on the front. His leather boots looked polished but well broke in. She smelled his aftershave, so musky and woodsy. Lydia smiled back at Dean who caught her baby blue eyes. He winked back. Lydia thought, nothing like a crispy marshmallow melting on chocolate for a tasty snack. Tall glasses of iced coffee and green tea was handed to the riders by the ranch hands.

"Anyone care for a ghost story?" Dean stated, "I'm really good at telling them. It might even chill your blood! Do you know the one about the Boogey man? He's scared me for years! LOL!"

Lydia smiled as Dean started telling his favorite ghost stories.


Finish the chapter contest entry


Story dedicated to my precious father, Raphael, a chaplin, who loved the vets he prayed for. My father died of a sudden stroke in 2003. He loved his horses. My daughters and I carry on his love of Jesus and horses. Let The Amazing Grace into your heart and take away the pain!

Jesus loves you! <>< God bless you all! soli deo Gloria!
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