100: Pilgrim’s Proof

100: Pilgrim’s Proof

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Touched by an Angel

Pilgrim’s Proof

Believers, look up — take courage. The angels are nearer than you think.

~Billy Graham

It was October 2nd. We were traveling in England, having just picked up our little blue rental car, and heading west on the M4 motorway. Irrationally, I grumbled about the color. I had envisioned a red car. Also there was an odor — probably cleaning fluid. We’d have to stop and air it out.

I kept pace with the other cars in the middle lane. Lorries lumbered along in the slow lane on my left, and other cars sped past me in the fast lane on my right. Suddenly our car lurched to the right. I corrected left, and it lurched again almost into a big lorry. I corrected again. Then our vehicle began waddling like a drunken duck, disregarding my efforts to steer. It swung around and cut across the fast lane into the cement median — narrowly missing a red car passing us. Banging into the median, we spun around full circle.

I thought we were going to die. But still, I prayed, “God help us! Please, God, help us.”

We ground to a halt. “Are you okay?” my husband asked.

“Yes. How about you?” I answered.

At that moment my door opened, and a young man offered his hand to help me out. Another young man was helping my husband out of the passenger side. My helper reached in and switched off the ignition. He gave the key to my husband. “A souvenir,” he said.

“The lorry driver has gone down the road to the call box to request an ambulance. I know that you are all right, but you’d never get a taxi in the middle of the M4,” he told us. “The driver of the car that passed you on the right has stopped about a mile down the road. He thinks he’s having a heart attack, but he isn’t. He’ll be all right.”

Just then another car pulled up and an enraged driver jumped out. Glaring at us, he yelled about the hazard of having our car in the middle of the motorway. He shouted at my husband, “You’re big enough! Move that car.”

I held him back, worried that the physical exertion added to the trauma of the accident might be too much for him. Our two helpers, however, immediately lifted the car to the edge of the motorway. Satisfied, the angry man sped away.

Our car was a sorry sight. The windows were blown out, and the tires were mere shreds of rubber hanging from the rims of the wheels. The motor hung sloppily off the front of the chassis. Broken glass covered the road, and our suitcases had been thrown several yards ahead.

My helper spoke again. “The police will ask you some questions, but there’ll be no trouble because there was no other vehicle involved. The ambulance should be here soon.”

In seconds the two emergency vehicles arrived. The constable asked me what had happened. I told him as much as I could. He nodded and said, “Yes, well there was no other vehicle involved.”

Hearing him echo my helper’s words, I asked, “I suppose you got a statement from the two men?”

He looked confused. “Who? I thought there was no other vehicle?”

Our helpers were nowhere around, and my husband was getting into the ambulance. The policeman indicated I should go too.

The ambulance drivers asked us some questions of the sort that check for rationality — such as “Do you know where you are? Do you know what day it is?” We passed the test.

They took us to the nearest hospital to be checked over. As we had nothing more serious than minor scratches, the nurses were more concerned about our accommodations and found us a bed and breakfast called Pilgrim’s Rest. A taxi took us there.

I paced around the bedroom in a daze, trembling and wondering if I were really alive or if I had died in that crash and was in some sort of limbo. I touched the furniture and the curtains, the windowsill — there was a Bible on the sill. I flipped through it, not looking for any Scripture in particular. Some words caught my eye, as if they were written in gold. “Your journey has the approval of the Lord.” I slammed the book down. Goose bumps prickled the back of my neck.

I considered our itinerary. It included three traditional pilgrimage sites: Glastonbury Abbey, the shrine at Walsingham, and Canterbury Cathedral. And here we were at Pilgrim’s Rest. It was a pilgrimage.

The next day, the rental company sent us a replacement car — a red one.

We later learned that October 2nd on the church calendar is Guardian Angels’ Day. Although I am a practicing Christian, I always assumed that angel stories were a literary device — a beautiful way to tell of God’s truth. I never believed that there were supernatural beings that flitted in and out of our lives, hovering over us, guarding us.

For about two years, people gave me books about angels and “angel on your shoulder” pins. I took it all as part of the current angel fad. Then one day I was reading Billy Graham’s book, Angels: God’s Secret Agents.

I asked my husband, “When we had our accident on the M4, what do you remember about those two young men who stopped to help us? What sort of car were they driving?”

We went over the scene together. There was our little blue car being carried to the side of the road by the two men. There was the angry man’s car. Then there was the ambulance and the police car. That was all.

“They had no car,” my husband said. It was impossible but true. They had arrived in the middle of a busy motorway at the moment we had stopped spinning. They had information about the lorry driver and the driver of the red car that passed us. They knew what the policeman would say, and on announcing the arrival of the ambulance, they disappeared as suddenly as they had appeared. And it happened on Guardian Angels’ Day. What more proof did we need?

~Diane Jones

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