“God, please get me home safely” was the brief but sincere prayer I said in the car before driving home last night.
The drive was the last step in my long journey home from an event in Bend, Oregon. My flights took me from Redmond, Oregon to Phoenix, Arizona where I was to catch my final flight home to Baltimore Washington International (BWI).
The flight that was supposed to leave at 3:10pm was delayed to 3:30 and 4:00 followed by 4:30, 4:40, and 4:50. At this point, the airlines probably figured out that we didn’t have much faith in what they were telling us. Finally, they scrapped our plane (it had mechanical issues) and finally got us off the ground close to 7pm. With the long, cross-country flight, that put us arriving into the airport around 2am.
By the time we arrived around 2:15am, I called for my parking shuttle and briefly considered driving to my sister’s house 10 minutes away instead of making the long 45 minute drive home. But I wanted to get home to see my family and be there in the morning when everyone woke up.
As the shuttle was driving, a car on the road (there weren’t many) pulled out in front of us and the few people on the bus exclaimed something like, “I guess he’s in a hurry.” It reminded me that sometimes, especially late at night, other drivers are our biggest obstacle.
I got in my car and assured myself that I was plenty awake even though it was close to 3am (I had just come from the West Coast) and could handle the drive home. In an uncharacteristic move, I put my hands together and said my little prayer aloud and started my drive home.
Sometimes I get “feelings” when I’m driving. Take the back road and not the highway. One way just doesn’t feel right and I always listen to my gut when these feelings come my way. On this particular night, however, I didn’t have any feelings. I was simply blasting music and singing away while driving at a reasonable speed and watching for animals and errant drivers.
Here’s when something odd happened.
I exited off Interstate 70 onto Marriottsville Road, like I normally do. I traveled a few miles and made a left onto Marriottsville 2 Rd (hey, I didn’t come up with the naming convention).
Marriottsville 2 is a windy but beautiful wooded road that follows alongside a large stream, an offshoot of the nearby Patapsco River. During the day, you can see beautiful rock formations and tree on one side and gently running water on the other. And you’ll almost always see wildlife.
That night, I had a fox run out in front of me and spotted many, many deer just on that road. But I was ready for it. And I actually enjoy when I get a chance to see nocturnal animals.
What should have happened next is that I should have continued on Marriottsville 2, rounded the bend by the remnants of the old stone chimney, and headed up to Ridge Road which would have put me minutes from home. It’s a drive I’ve made so often I know it like the back of my hand. Even at 3am.
As I get ready to type this paragraph, all my hairs are standing on end. Something that tells me this wasn’t just an ordinary mistake.
Suddenly I’m driving and the road doesn’t look familiar to me. It’s wooded and curvy and surrounded by deer but I know I’m on a different road. Where the hell am I? I thought, a little freaked out. My GPS told me that I was on Arrington Road. I had clearly turned off of Marriottsville 2 and was driving a completely different route that didn’t even directly take me home.
To the ordinary person, this is just a simple story. It was late. I was tired. I got confused and made a wrong turn. End of story.
But I wasn’t really tired. I wasn’t confused. And I have absolutely no recollection of making that turn, right or wrong.
Here’s what I believe.
I was put on that alternate road. Or I was lead there and didn’t even realize it. Because if the thought was placed in my head, I would not have rationally turned there.
Now the real question. What’s the significance?
That’s something I’ll never know. Maybe a drunk driver was traveling down Marriottsville 2. Or maybe a deer would have jumped out in front of me at the last second. Or maybe something would have fallen when I rounded the corner and when I took my eyes off the road, a tree might have been waiting for me.
We make little decisions all the time, consciously or unconsciously, that impact the course of our lives. We know when those decisions have disastrous consequences but we never know when they’ve prevented them. Instead, we have to simply be listening, looking, or just be open to the fact that there might be a little divine intervention going on.