Monday, March 9, 2015

APPOINTMENT IN SAMARRA, AVERTED

PALM SPRINGS POWER-PROVIDING
WINDMILLS IN THE DARK

WAS FRIDAY A FULL MOON?

PASSING CARS.
NO-ONE STOPPED.

Whoa, well I had a bit of a scare Friday evening around 8. I had left LA in rush hour for what I knew and didn't really mind would be a long drive to Palm Springs. As I have many times before, I was poised to spend a week to ten days at the house of my friend Christine, who by the way deserves an all-star hospitality medal.

Anyway, I left in the light, around 4:00 and was approaching in the dark, around 8 (Palm Springs is about 100 miles from LA, giving you an idea of the traffic). The ride is a straight shot on the 10 freeway, and after you at last exit the 10, you get on Route 111, which is a divided highway, two lanes both sides, which goes for a dozen pretty much deserted miles into the smallish city of Palm Springs.

I did notice the "Check left rear tire" light had come on a few miles back, but that comes on fairly frequently to tell me my air is low. So I thought well I will put air in as soon as I get to Palm Springs, I knew just the gas station. I was thinking how cool the windmills looked, lit up red in the dark. I was admiring the full or almost full moon. I was contemplating the little meal of feta cheese and olives and carrot ginger soup and bread sticks I would put together in Christine's blessed kitchen, as I was starving and had to pee and my back was killing me and it had been a long week, a long day--I'd rented a storage space and a U-Haul and friends had helped me move the rest of my stuff out of the house in Silver Lake where I'd lived for four years--in fact, a long few months.

Out of the blue, I started to hear that dreaded sound and feel that signals a flat--bump, bump, bump. And then, without warning, my car went utterly, completely out of control and began berserkly fishtailing in what felt like fifty yards in either direction. Steer into the skid I remember thinking (though maybe that's only on ice), but nothing I did--I'm sure I tried to slam on the brakes, and I was desperately trying to steer the thing back on course--made a particle of difference.

I know there was a car a short distance back, cause I'd checked my rear view mirror a few seconds before, but apparently the person or persons sailed on by as when I came to rest what seemed like five minutes but was probably five seconds later neatly and safely in an empty parking area, the car was nowhere to be seen.

I got out, shaking, to look at the tire and saw it was not flat. It had sheared completely off the rim, as if cut the whole way around with a jagged serrated knife.

I got back in the car and put on my flashers. A bunch more other cars passed. I just sat there quietly for several long minutes, feeling my heart beat and saying Jesus Christ over and over not as a swear, but as a greeting and a thank you.

MY VEHICLE MIRACULOUSLY CAME TO REST IN THE WELL-LIT PARKING LOT OF THIS
OFF ROAD QUADS RENTAL PLACE,
ONE OF ONLY TWO OR THREE COMMERCIAL ESTABLISHMENTS
ON THE TEN OR TWELVE MILES OF ROUTE 111 COMING INTO PALM SPRINGS
A bottle of water had splashed all over the car and I was afraid my phone had gotten soaked but no, the phone had catapulted to the floor over near the clutch pedal and was safe. I remembered I half-finished travel mug of coffee so I thought to finish it, there in the dark. I'm pretty sure I re-applied my lipstick.

And then I called AAA Plus, checked my manual for spare tire info, took all my bags out of the trunk area so the guy could get to the tire easily, and started slowly packing the parking lot in the dark in a hyper-sensitive state of looking at the stars and feeling stunned to be alive. That was when I started realizing, Oh my God, if that had happened on the 10, I'd be dead and probably so would a few other people. I remembered the two rosaries I have twined around my rear view mirror and how I always touch them and make the sign of the cross when I got onto the freeway and how about ten miles back I'd realized I hadn't done that this trip and touched them and made the sign of the cross then.

I thought about how faith isn't superstition. Faith isn't voodoo. Faith doesn't protect you from evil and from harm and from being killed in a car accident. Faith just makes you grateful for any good that happens, for any time you're not hurt. Faith makes every time you fetch up safe seem like a miracle.

If it's your time, it's your time. Apparently it wasn't mine, yet.

But I am kind of shaken up. They have to order a special tire, which won't be in till Wednesday, so I won't be going to the qualifying day at the annual Indian Wells tennis tournament which is kind of a ritual each early March but that's okay.

Convinced every event has a deeper meaning, I'm pondering. It is QUIET out here, which is the first quiet I've experienced in months without having to brace/prepare/cope for a work thing or a moving thing or a life thing.

I have been saying yes to too much. Time to say no to more activity, yes to some rest.

AAA

MY TRUSTY FIAT

13 comments:

  1. Glad you're safe! And rest can be good...

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  3. I am so glad you are okay. What a scary experience. Hope you have had some rest, silence and the carrot ginger soup. I am so thankful it was not your time to go. Your writing is a gift and keeps me from skidding off the path! Have a safe and non eventful trip home.!

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  5. Thank God you're OK.

    Also, a brief note about one of your books. My wife and I recently read Redeemed and we both enjoyed it. (I know she did because she'd disappear with it in the, um, WC, and I wouldn't see her for a half hour. She only does that with the best, just so you know.) Your book made me alternately well up with tears and burst out laughing. More importantly, it has made me look at myself more honestly. (Sheesh, I sure got complacent, but never mind.) Thank you for writing that book.

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  6. Thank you, Lord. Thank you for the guardian angels dispatched to look after our dear Heather, and all those in her path, that you allow her to write fore another day. Lenten journey, indeed.

    I had to look up "Appointment in Samarra". Wow. Apropos!

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  7. When I first scrolled down your post (without having read a word), I thought the photo of the off-road quads rental place was an altar in a darkened church. Squint and you'll see what I mean.

    I'm glad you're all right. The same thing happened to my parents on their way home from P.S. about four years ago. The wheel sheared off the rim and actually passed their car as they slowed to stop on the side of the freeway in San Bernardino.

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    1. The tire sheared off, not the wheel. Now wouldn't THAT have been something!

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    2. Yes, I see it - without squinting even.

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  8. So glad you're OK. What a shock, after what sounds like some extremely busy and perhaps difficult months. I thought as i read this how true it is that every event in life is significant - every little thing. And how often we miss the meaning in the little and big events of our lives. But not you. I love how you allow every event to speak to you of God's working in your life. I am sure he will or has already revealed much to you about this scary event. I am really so glad you're live and well, and I will pray that you get the rest and time out you need! Love, Jane

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  9. Thank you, dear folks! Yes, I had two pictures of the quad place: this one and another showing clearly the commercial lettering on the front of the building. I liked this one much better, precisely because of the mysterious quality--which as you say, Bill, and I hadn't thought of--evokes an altar.

    Have felt sort of stunned all week. I have a new tire and am off to the giant Congress in Anaheim today. I need the prayers badly. Again, thank you and grace to all...

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  10. Wow. Glad you weren't injured, Heather.
    Kirk

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  11. I also saw an altar ...
    So glad you are okay! You have been in my prayers :) Thanks for always sharing of yourself - and Christ - through this blog.

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