Tuesday, June 12, 2007

"The Best Thing That Happened to Me Today"

Today I decided to take the back way to visit a man under hospice care. Winding over the mountain on my way to Mid-Valley Hospital, I noticed two cars paused ahead of me in opposing lanes, with the drivers chatting with one another. So I slowed down.

Good thing that I did. Out of nowhere, a deer leaped onto the road. It kissed my front bumper and blew its nose on my door. Then it ran away.

The car was drivable, but bent. No steam from the radiator, although the plastic grill was smashed. As I continued on to my visit, foul thoughts flooded me. I turned off the car radio so I could snarl to myself. I calculated the approximate expense of repairs. I breathed hot vengeance, and prayed the deer would suffer a miserable death.

Then I arrived at the hospice to visit my friend. Cancer has diminished him considerably. He struggles to stay awake. His wife had warned that his conversations are growing shorter. So we chatted for a few minutes, and I stood to leave.

Before I could sum up our time with a prayer, he asked me what was new with me. "Oh," I said, "a deer hit my car on the way down here."

Well! I had temporarily forgotten he was a retired game warden. Bumper-Kissing Deer were one of his specialties. Suddenly this withered man came fully alive. He asked questions, quoted statistics, told a few anecdotes, and smiled broadly. For the moment, he was completely animated.

We had our prayer. As we said our goodbyes, he added, "Thanks for coming. This is the best thing that happened to me today." My minor car accident had become a blessing for him.

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