"View From the Top" - Synopsis

"He just stood there--bent over--looking into my eyes. Finally he said, 'I love you, Blue Bells. Always remember that Blue Bells are a member of the Forget-Me-Not family." He turned and walked slowly toward the garage. I never saw him again. Called "Blue Bells" by her father, an avid hiker in the Cascades where he encountered the brilliant blue wildflowers that matched his little girl's eyes, Josie never knew why this adored man had left one day, while she was swinging in the yard, with no explanation, never to return.

Now on the way to her first teaching job on the banks of the Columbia in Washington state, Josie has vowed to steer clear of relationships with men, having experienced one too many abandonments in her young life. She views the broken engagement at the end of her senior year as further evidence that hurt is inevitable when you love a man. However, meeting "Dr. Ben", in the first chapter, a fellow-traveler bound for Seattle, whose listening skills and empathic heart evoke deep mutual sharing with such a cathartic effect that both Josie and Ben feel something very warm for each other, and are reluctant to part. But the two become separated in the airport by a medical emergency, and Ben doesn't reach her departing gate in time. Josie sees his disappearance into thin air as just another man who has let her down.

"As she handed the boarding pass to the attendant, Josie longed to look back just one more time. Perhaps she'd see him running toward her, arriving just in time. But she kept her gaze straight ahead. It would hurt too much to look again-- and see that he had not come."

Since neither had learned the essentials about each other, to make reconnecting possible, innovative but unsuccessful efforts are made which appear to have a chance of bringing them together again, repeatedly resulting in near-misses.

Josie settles into her new routines at the school, meeting her students whose varying needs call on their caring teacher who tries to help them. Interfacing with her admiring Principal; dealing with recurring memories of the handsome doctor to whom she fears she has given a bit of her heart; pondering the mysterious appearances of an "apple for the teacher" which arrive each Monday, first without a note, then with a misunderstood one... all challenge Josie's patience and faith, encouraging her to pray and trust the promises from the ceramic "Daily Bread" on her kitchen table.

When Ben doesn't hear back from Josie, sadly concluding she isn't interested in reconnecting with him, he continues in his busy psychiatric practice, freely offers a support group to help his patients and keep his own mind busy while doing something helpful , and joins a hiking club where he prepares to climb his beloved Mt. Rainier. It is here that he meets Paul, an ailing older man who no longer able to continue his cherished mountain climbing, delights in the chance to share his knowledge and expertise with Ben. The friendship that ensues, based on their mutual love of the mountains and earlier losses in both of their lives, inextricably draws the men closer.

Unknown to either man, Paul is Josie's father, who had contracted AIDS during the war years, through a blood transfusion, and due to others' irrational fears, lack of knowledge in those days, and worst possible assumptions, he had been forced to leave his family with a promise never to contact them again. Now years later, Josie's mother having died, Paul is free to consider re-entering his daughter's life, the only block being his overwhelming fear of her rejection. Still unaware of their mutual ties to Josie, Ben urges Paul to take the chance relying on his own belief that love is greater than fear and the only thing that can overcome it. While convincing Paul of this message, the teacher becomes the student, and Ben decides it's time for him to take some risks too, making the trip over the snowy mountains to find Josie during Christmas-break. Meanwhile, since she has received a call from the Seattle hospital where her father is said to be asking for her, Josie struggles with her apprehensions but ultimately decides she must go. While she is confronting and then getting to know her father again, Ben arrives in Richland only to find that she is gone. One of several "near misses" throughout the story!

Eventually, there is a reunion of Ben and Josie, with unbelievable explanations and miraculous "God-incidences" that allow them to experience their blossoming love and make plans to marry. All climaxing in the utter shock and disbelief of both men when Josie takes Ben to the hospital to meet her father, and the two are joyously surprised that they are already friends and have unknowingly been influential in making all of this happen. Overcoming fear, offering forgiveness, and the transforming power of love bring these three together, at Christmas-time in the beautiful Northwest, in the Holy Season when the ultimate gift of love was freely given.

Whether observing the interplay of sunshine and clouds through an airplane window; gazing down from the summit after an exhausting climb; watching the Christmas lights from the revolving dining-room atop the Space Needle; or sitting in front of Ben's apartment window--observing crowds of hustling shoppers below and serene Mt. Rainier in the distance-- the perspective is often much clearer with the view from the top.