This morning, I learned that the 7-year-old son of someone in our group fell 13-feet into a manhole. Miraculously, he escaped with just a few cuts and scrapes.
I am reminded of a similar story that happened to the grandson of a neighbor many years ago. I’ll call him Bob. Bob had been on the town First Aid Squad when a call came in saying that a young boy had fallen from a third floor balcony – twenty or more feet. As Bob was driving, his partner jotted down the address.
“What was that address again?” His partner repeated it, and all the blood drained from his face when he realized that he was headed toward his daughter’s apartment building. “That’s my grandson,” he managed to say even as he left the car and ran to the child who was on the pavement surrounded by neighbors.
“Hey Bud, don’t move. I’m here, we’ll take care of you. Don’t worry.” He fought back the concern that might have shown on his face.
“Oh Granddad,” the tyke said. “I’m not worried. They already told me I was OK.”
Bob assumed that the neighbors had calmed the child down. His partner arrived with the stretcher and gear. As they lifted him together, his grandson said, “When I was falling, they put their hands under my bottom and said, ‘We’ve got you.’ They were all sparkly.”
Bob looked at his partner to see his reaction, which was a non-committal shrug. Had the child hit his head? There was no blood. What was he talking about? With little Bobby safely in the ambulance, they headed for the emergency room.
Less than an hour later, a doctor came out and spoke to the distraught mother and grandfather. “He’s fine. Barely a scratch. How far did you say he fell?”
“At least twenty feet,” Bob’s daughter told him. “He was playing on the balcony, and must have climbed over the railing to try and get to the neighbor, and suddenly, he was gone!”
“Well, they say God protects fools and children. He’s a very lucky boy!” The doctor patted Bob on the shoulder and turned to walk away.
“Doctor? May I ask you something? My grandson said that when he was falling, he felt someone ‘put their hands under him’ and tell him they had him. Have you ever heard of such a thing?”
The kindly young man smiled. “If you believe in miracles, I think this could be considered one.” When Bob didn’t say anything in response, he continued. “My father was a surgeon. When I was a boy, he would sometimes come home and tell us about things he couldn’t explain. I’ve heard stories directly from close friends, too. We have no answers, so we just accept the possibility that we don’t know everything.”
That little boy could never be convinced that he hadn’t seen angels. Years later, the memory was as vivid as it was on the day of the accident. I imagine that once a person escapes suffering or death, they never again doubt that there is something that intervenes on our behalf in moments of danger.
Back in the 1970s, my best man’s son fell into the frozen lake in his backyard. By the time he was finally pulled out he had been in the frigid water for many minutes and had no pulse. They resuscitated him, but the doctors said he would most likely wind up brain dead. Amazingly, he suffered no damage and went on to be a perfectly normal little boy. Doctors credited hypothermia and the young age of the victim.
Is it luck or is there some rational explanation that prevents a catastrophe from happening in life or minimizes its effects? A classic case is the person who suddenly decides not to get on a flight, or to take another route and later finds he’s avoided a disaster.
Both of my sons have had brushes with death, although I personally have not. In many cases, people say they are changed. My mother told me of her experience as a young woman and it forever changed my viewpoint and set me on a fifty-year search for answers.
When we hear of these occurrences or benefit ourselves and are unable to explain them, we can simply go on as we were and live out our time unmindful of the gift we have been given, or we can be grateful for another chance to complete our life’s work.
We can be protected not only from danger, but from bad decisions or even unscrupulous salesmen. Each morning I do what I call ‘protective work,’ just as I was taught to do as a child. I envision myself and my loved ones surrounded by love, in a kind of bubble of white light. Any time I get into a car, I mentally do the same, not just for myself, but for all I encounter on the road.
At the very heart of these incidents – and surrounding us all – is a force that we cannot see or touch. Some call it the Universe, with a capital “U.” Its presence in our life is not dependent upon following any religion, or even in the belief of a God of any name.
When we recognize that the Intelligence that created the world is all around us, guiding, sustaining and protecting, these little miracles can be a powerful reminder that we are always ‘in the palm of His hand.’