Just Passing By


Me:  Where are you going?

Prodigal:  I’m just passing by, on the way to the store.

Me:  That reminds me of a story.


This comes from the book  Angels Watching Over Us


Six months earlier, during a winter blizzard, Kathy’s car had spun off an icy road in a series of graceful pirouettes and come to rest in a deep, snow-filled ditch.

Fortunately, there were no other cars around to get tangled up with, but that also meant no one would likely be coming along for hours.  This was Kathy’s usual shortcut on country back roads between her house and the courthouse in town where she was a circuit court judge.

Used to weighing the facts and options of each situation, Kathy knew this one was not good:  First, the pressure on her chest from the steering wheel where she was jammed would kill her if the subzero temperature didn’t do it first.  Second, the airbag had deflated as quickly as it expanded and was threatening to suffocate her.  And third, no matter how much she wriggled, she couldn’t move enough to reach her cell phone for help.

She had no idea how long it had been since the accident, but she knew that the deepening lethargy creeping through her body was a warning that she was about to lose consciousness.  She drifted in and out of awareness, so cold that she could no longer shiver.

Suddenly, a man–ordinary looking in denim coveralls, a hooded parka, and a red-checked hat- appeared beside her car.

“Are you okay, lady?” he asked.

She could only nod, not having enough room to inhale deeply for a shout.

“We’ll have you out of there in a minute,” he said.

Before she could whisper, “Thank you, ” he disappeared.

She didn’t see him return but heard a noise behind her.  Glancing up in the rearview mirror, she saw him shoveling snow away from the exhaust.  Of course-the carbon monoxide would have killed her even before the cold or the steering wheel’s pressure.

“Sit still now,” the man said, shouting through the back window.  “I’m going to be making some noise.”

And, with that , she heard a wrenching sound as the rear station wagon door reluctantly opened.  The man crawled in and appeared behind her.

Carefully, he lowered the car’s seat back and helped her slide out to safety.  He held her in his arms and let her take in several deep breaths.

“We’ve got to keep moving,” he said.

Half pushing, half carrying her, the man got her up the steep embankment to the roadside.  An ambulance was just pulling up behind a farm livestock truck; she could smell the reassuringly familiar aroma of cows.  Gently the man set her down on the ground.  She closed her eyes lightly as she waited for the EMTs.  She opened her eyes again when she felt a blanket being wrapped around her.

“I’m so glad he called you,”  Kathy said to the EMT who was gently stabilizing and strapping her onto the stretcher.

“Who?”  said the EMT, looking around in confusion.  “Nobody called.  We were dispatched to another accident, but then we got the signal disregard it.  We just happened to be passing by.”

When Kathy’s husband went to the accident scene later that afternoon, the snowfall had erased any trace of an angel who’d worn a red checked hat and driven a stock truck.


For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there forever:  and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually.

2 Chronicles 7:16


Jennifer Van Allen




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