"He hath given His angels charge over thee to keep thee in all thy ways; in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone." (Psalm 90:11)
Today is the memorial feast of our Guardian Angels and in honor of this day, I will tell the story of an encounter we had, about one year ago, with a seemingly miraculous and saving messenger of God.
At that time, we were meeting a group of friends at a local park every Tuesday afternoon. It was a wonderful opportunity for the children to play and for the mothers to talk. It was a new park, completed just a year before, and so it was modern, appealing, and clean.
The one problem with the newness of this park was that the local traffic had not yet become accustomed to the influx in pedestrians. The park was located on a wide main street and cars passed by at alarming speeds.
The parking situation did not help matters either. With cars crowded closely together, it was almost impossible to see persons on foot and yet the speeding traffic whizzed thoughtlessly by. I kept the boys' bikes and scooters in the trunk of the van and when I unloaded them, I could feel the wind from the passing traffic warning me not to take a single step backward.
After an enjoyable afternoon at the park on a beautiful fall day much like this one, I called to the boys that it was time to go. This was one year ago now and so Nicholas was no more than five months old and Zachary was a year and a half. I had Nicholas in a front carrier and Zachary on my hip. The older boys were walking beside me with their bikes and scooters in tow. Other mothers and children were leaving at the same time and we all walked together toward our parked cars and the busy street.
Suddenly, Jacob sped past me, riding his scooter. He was heading straight toward the back of the van and the speeding traffic just beyond. He was three years old at the time and apparently had not remembered the rule that we walk bikes and scooters to the van.
He might have been planning to stop when he reached the rear of the van, but even if he were planning such a thing, I had known him to overshoot his goal on more than one occasion.
My chest grew tight, there was a warm numbing sensation that passed through my head, neck, and down my spine. My legs felt weak and I thought they might give out from under the weight of both Zachary and Nicholas, but Jacob was moving fast. He showed no sign of stopping and I stood back helpless, weighted as I was, and unable to run. I could not hand the others off. There was no time.
But neither could I stand back and do nothing at all and so I did the one thing I could do. I turned my heart to God and I shouted. I shouted loudly enough to turn nearly every head at that park. I did not shout to Jacob, though, and to this day I do not know exactly why, but I shouted in frantic desperation,
"Somebody!...Somebody please stop him!" I shouted this though there was no one in sight. There was no one who could stop him. No one close enough to help. Not in time.
But then there was. Out of nowhere there came a jogger, a muscular man in black spandex. And standing hardly in front of the traffic, he caught the handle bar of Jacob's scooter with one hand and stopped it short. Just then an SUV streaked by, blowing Jacob's hair in its wake. I had time to think, "That car might have killed my son," when the man in black spandex waved a hand in my direction and was gone.
After receiving kind words and gestures from our friends and getting everything and everybody settled into the van, I crawled up to the driver's seat. I looked out at the many faces at the park that were still looking my way, I laid my head on the steering wheel, and I cried. I cried because my body was still shaken from the fear and I needed to release it and I cried because I was so happy that Jacob was not hurt.
Later, I had the chance to speak with one of my friends that had been present that day and I asked her a question I had been wanting to ask," Did you see that jogger coming?"
"No," she said, "I did not. That was a very faith affirming experience for me."
I cannot claim that it was, in fact, Jacob's Guardian Angel because I do not know this with any certainty. The skeptic could say that these events could just as easily be explained by chance. It would not surprise me in the least, however, if all my boys had muscular athletes for Guardian Angels. For this job, I think they would need to be in good shape. This man certainly looked the part.
What I do know with moral certitude is this: Whether it was the apparition of an immaterial being or just a jogger out on his usual path, I know that God placed him there in answer to my desperate plea. I know that he was the answer to my prayer.