Trustful surrender to Divine Providence, is a small book written by two Jesuit Priests, Father Jean Baptiste Saint Jure, S.J. (1588-1657) and Saint Claude De La Colombiere, S.J. (1641-1682) in the seventeenth century. The good priests suggest we accept our everyday lives and the assorted aggravations and disappointments as simply part of what we experience, that a fly does not even buzz around to annoy us that God does not know and allow. When I think of the regular buzzing of a fly that arrives on my side of my bedroom window, mid-winter, whenever the temperatures rise above freezing, instead of looking immediately for something to swat it with, I now consider that God knows even this, and return to my reading. More important events require a bit more effort in the arena of surrender.
Family gatherings are important to me so I try to attend most of the celebrations to which I am invited. Today I was on my way to a family gathering in Berea, with minimal directions and a vague memory of my last visit to this place. I stopped at a gas station to check directions and as I was backing out of the parking slot I was in, I backed right into a cement post – about the size of a small barrel. Quickly trying to shift back into drive from reverse, I found that the whole car stopped and I could not re-start it at all.
After a few more tries, I gave it up and called triple A to come and give it a try. While I was talking with them a customer from the gas station, a thin man with long grey and white hair, wearing a New York City tee shirt and black slacks, came over to see if he could help. Another man said that there should be a switch to restart the car somewhere in the trunk of the car. The second man left and I thanked him for that. The first man pushed the car away from the concrete post and propped it in place with my winter window squeegee. He checked to be sure the battery had enough juice in it, and said it was fine since the binging when the door opened with the key in the ignition continued, the lights went on and so did the radio. Next he looked in many places for that re-start switch, with no luck.
A young lady from the gas station counter joined us and she paged through the user manual and found where the switch should be but the car would not restart. By this time the triple A man in his flatbed towing truck arrived. Dollar signs multiplied in my head thinking of the towing fee from Berea to Garfield Heights. In a matter of minutes he knew exactly what happened and he explained everything to the man with the NYC tee shirt and me. By this time the young lady had to get back to her job. The two men said that with a couple of simple parts replacements I could be on my way and the gentleman in the tee shirt was very willing to do the work.
The triple A man left and the long haired man went home to get a wrench. He pushed the car out of the way of other customers and I sat there waiting for him to return. Somehow this all seemed quite reasonable to me and I had not a single concern about any of my rescuers. When he came back with his wrenches he removed the broken parts, I got into his car with him and he drove to a nearby Auto Zone store, which looked closed, but was not. The clerk in the store knew the man and his ministry and commented that it was most kind of him to do this work. The long haired man picked out two tiny items and the clerk gave him a washer – I paid the seven dollars for the parts and we returned to my car still at the gas station.
I learned that his name is Doug and his wife is Patti and when I asked how I might thank him and his wife for his work, he said I could do nothing for them. He was a Viet Nam veteran, wounded by shrapnel and they both consider what he does, God’s work. I told him I would add him and Patti to my prayer list, since that is what I do for people who help me that I may not be able to repay for their kindnesses. He said they could always use a good prayer. I said we all could, but that some folks don’t know they even need a prayer. He said that was something the pastor at their church said this morning, funny I should say that. I said that He has a plan for each of us and I was feeling very sure that this was God’s plan for us this day.
He completed the change of the nuts and bolts, somehow over riding the broken plastic arm linked to the gear shift mechanism. I was able to shift gears, though the dial on the dashboard registers slightly off center, but it works. He said this should hold until I could get the car to a dealer for the plastic part that Auto Zone clerk said is a dealer only part and not available to them. With a brief hug I thanked him again and we bid each other farewell. I headed to the place my family gathering was scheduled to be. I did see one sign, but when I pulled into the park did and parked my car I did not see anyone – I walked around and took a few photos of the scenery. Then I realized I was very tired and figured that if I was intended to be at that gathering, it would have happened directly many hours earlier, so I got into my car again and drove home thinking about the way life works and the wonder of divine intervention. It is unlikely that I will learn why I was not meant to attend that function, but it just was not meant to be.