47: Protection in a Dangerous World

47: Protection in a Dangerous World

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles Happen

Protection in a Dangerous World

It comes down to whether you believe in seven miraculous escapes a week or one guardian angel.

~Robert Brault

I believe angels are present and active in our world. I like to imagine a vigorous, yet harried, protector tasked with keeping me out of harm’s way. This job is made more challenging because I also believe that life is a daring adventure or it is nothing at all. I am driven to climb it, swim it, ride it or paddle it whenever it’s possible to do so.

I like to think my angel enjoys a good adventure, too. I can almost hear him howl with joy as he rides the rapids on the front of my kayak. But I also believe he’s by my side when I’m driving in rush hour traffic or walking through a dark parking lot. Help has been sent to me in many ways over the years, and I have learned to pay close attention so I recognize these sacred moments when they arrive.

Sometimes my “life preserver” comes in the form of a loud, decisive voice that seems to originate from within me and leaves no room for misinterpretation. One time, this happened during a pre-dawn jog on a humid, tropical morning. I came upon the gates to a local park. As I approached the entrance, as I’d done hundreds of times before, I heard a resounding “NO!” At the same moment I felt as if I’d hit an invisible wall and, despite the forward momentum of my run, actually bounced backward. Needless to say, I crossed the park off my itinerary for the day.

I believe I was saved from something sinister that morning, but the irony of divine intervention is that I don’t always know what danger I would have faced. Sometimes it’s a leap of faith, the childlike trust that I was indeed spared. Other times, it’s all much clearer.

“Turn now!” A voice boomed in my head as I came home from work one evening. I usually turn left into my neighborhood from the south, but it’s also possible to come straight into the entrance from the east. These roads meet at a four-way stop sign. I did as I was told, and a few navigational adjustments later came to a stop directly in front of my neighborhood. Cold chills raced down my spine when I noticed the car that had been in front of me and the car that had been behind me on the road from the south had collided in a very serious accident.

I have also felt the undeniable touch of an angel. In the middle of a triathlon several years ago, a woman careened into me during the bike leg of the race while traveling around thirty miles per hour. We were both thrown from our bikes, but I had the clear, specific sensation of being caught and placed gently on the ground. The woman who hit me broke her clavicle and wrist and split her elbow open to the bone. I walked away without a single bruise, abrasion or the jarring feeling that comes from taking a bad fall.

On one occasion, I was climbing a ladder anchored into a steep mountain as I trekked around Mont Blanc in France. As I neared the top of the long climb, hundreds of feet in the air, my foot slipped from one of the rungs. My fatigue and heavy backpack made me less agile and I had the fleeting realization that I was going to fall. A hand clamped firmly around my wrist and held fast until I had regained my balance. The feeling of that hand was so real that I assumed it belonged to my husband. I looked up to thank him, but saw nothing above me but empty space and blue sky.

One intervention required a bit more “visibility” from my Heavenly helper. My sister and I hiked along the Appalachian Trail one summer day and came to our last junction. It was a clearing from which the trail leading to our car would veer right and down. Despite the fact that we were only a few miles from the road, we were still deep in the isolated woods. As we approached that intersection, the all-too familiar voice rang out in my mind: “Don’t stop!” It was then that I noticed three men sitting against a tree in the clearing and clearly heard one of them say: “Here they come.”

The sense of danger was palpable. I firmly grabbed my sister’s arm and casually said hello to the men without slowing. They remained seated as we crossed within a few feet of them.

“Hey ladies, what’s your hurry?”

“Sorry, we’re meeting some friends for dinner and we don’t want to be late,” I lied. “Have a good one.”

“Hey, wait, we just want to ask you a question.”

I met my sister’s eyes and knew she was feeling the same sense of trepidation. I glanced back and saw the men, now a few yards away, climbing to their feet and understood they were not going to let us simply walk away.

As they approached, a large black bear stepped out from behind some thick brush and, amazingly, positioned itself between us. He stood calmly at the head of the trail without exhibiting any of the normal alarm you’d expect to see when a bear encounters a group of people. The expression on the men’s faces turned from malevolence to terror and I knew their fear of that bear was stronger than their desire to harm us.

I took advantage of the opportunity, pushed my sister and yelled: “Run!” We ran as fast as we could over the rock-covered trail and didn’t stop until we reached our car. I glanced back frequently but never saw any sign of the men gaining on us. We memorized the license plate number of the car parked in front of us at the trailhead and sped straight to a Park Ranger’s office to report the incident.

A week later the ranger called to update us on the situation. It seems that the men had been wanted in connection with several brutal attacks on women. The police now had them in custody. The men admitted they had seen my sister and me exit our car and head out for a hike with daypacks and, terrifyingly, were waiting for us in that clearing. The ranger confirmed our fear that they did in fact intend to harm us. “You were lucky those old boys were out of their element that day.” He chuckled. “They actually believe a bear purposely blocked the trail! Isn’t that the craziest thing you ever heard?”

I knew it wasn’t luck that saved us that day and I know that bear’s appearance was no accident. I am terrified to think how close we came to real harm and silently thanked God, yet again, for His protection.

To the ranger, I simply said: “Yes sir, that’s crazy, all right!”

~Vicki Kitchner

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