On Friday, The Newberg Graphic received an emailed statement from Shelli Owen, a local resident and also the mother of Mary Owen, the 23-year-old hiker who spent a grueling six days on Mount Hood before being rescued. The Graphic declined to publish Shelli Owen’s statement due to length, but I don’t have any space considerations here. Her message appears below in unedited form.
Thank you to all the people who prayed with us for Mary to be found alive and well, and to those who have continued to pray for her; also for all the well wishes that have been sent to her and to us. Thank you also to those who have been praying for us, her family; her friends; and for her and our other needs which have arisen. We have been inexpressibly blessed by God through His overflowing answers to your prayers!
Thank you to the Newberg/Dundee police department for the diligence and skills which they faithfully and patiently applied to quickly determine Mary’s general whereabouts. Thank you to Search and Rescue and the National Guard and other volunteers who gave, or who were willing to give, of themselves and their resources to find and rescue our daughter/sister/friend!
Thank you to the skilled and kindly hospital staff at Legacy Emmanuel Hospital who have taken such excellent care of Mary and so patiently dealt with us, her family and friends; and to Kaiser Permanente for their speed and personal help in replacing Mary’s eye glasses, etc…
Thank you to those individuals with the media/press who represented us initially in trying to find Mary; and to those who made an honest effort to accurately share her meaning and the different aspects of her story which they covered. Not all the media/press has taken that care. We have shared some good laughs as well as some consternation at some of the ‘stories’ that have been fabricated (for lack of a better word) around her true story and interviews.
Thank you to friends and family who have been such a wonderful mortal (and moral) and emotional support in both tangible and intangible ways! Mary and everyone involved with her have been hugely blessed by the outpouring of your love to her and to us.
Most of all, thank you, God, for your particular answers to our prayers, and for the grace and mercy You showed to Mary and to us in allowing us to pin-point her on that incredibly vast mountain, and for her rescue and healing, and so much more which we cannot share here.
Some things happen to people by accident, but what happened to Mary was more a result of willful decisions. She has since acknowledged over and over to us and to others that she was being wrongfully head-strong and prideful to try to climb Mt. Hood alone and in failing to tell any of her friends or family that she was going to attempt it, so someone would know where she was and when she should be expected back. She understands now why no one knew to look for her sooner. While she was on the mountain, I believe she came to fully realize these things, and that they could cost her her life and leave those who love her with unimaginable pain and grief. The first thing she said to her dad and then to me after we arrived at the ER was, “I’m so sorry…” She has since been repeatedly apologizing to us and to others. This is a learning experience that will not be wasted.
Some people have been commenting, on Facebook and elsewhere, about how stupid or costly this was; and, yes, they are right; but they are also wrong. In failing to give her (and others?) any mercy or grace, they are failing to acknowledge their own human failings and those of us all. Mary’s failings in this instance might be far less stupid or costly to others in the long run, than the daily thoughtlessness, carelessness, arrogance and selfishness that sometimes or often takes over in our own lives. These ‘little’ things eventually add up to the equivalent of a mountain in the lives of the people who love us and/or who live the closest to us each day. We are grateful for God’s grace and mercy in bringing Mary back to us. May each one of us also extend grace and mercy (but not excuses) to those whose failings are exposed to us – just as we would like our own failings to be treated.
Even after this experience, Mary will probably never grow tired of seeking novelty, adventure, challenge and even danger, and in a way we wouldn’t want her to. This is part of who Mary is. But we are relieved by how she has internalized this experience and expressed the desire to never again intentionally allow this desire to eclipse her submission to God’s leading or warnings or to doing what is right by the people in her life. She has expressed the realization that we are all attached to one another in the tapestry of life. She has experienced now how what one person does effects EVERYONE else. Through this experience she seems to have encountered that this is both a fearful and a wonderful thing. It has become a powerful reason to her for looking to God for His wisdom and love for direction in her daily walk and in her relations with others.
The timeless wisdom in the following verse has new meaning in the light of Mary’s experiences, not just for her, but if we will take it to heart, for the rest of us as well: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the LORD and turn away from evil” (Prov. 3:5-7, from the New Living Translation of the Bible).