07 Dec 2008

Physical Intervention

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My pastor today gave a sermon on trusting God, and he relayed some personal stories of times when he “should have” gotten really hurt and didn’t. (The most interesting was when he was 10 or 11, he somehow set a golf ball on fire, and then dumped a 5-gallon tank of gasoline on it.)

For me, there was definitely such an event: It was in grad school and I was coming back at like 2 in the morning from my friend’s apartment. (I was staying at my grandmother’s in Long Island, and so even though I didn’t leave all that late, what with the train etc. I didn’t actually get back to her house until such a late hour.)

It was summer and I was wearing sandals. My uncle also stayed at the house, and he had come home from work (he worked nights) and didn’t realize I was still out, so he locked the screen door. Thus, I couldn’t get in, even though I had a key.

Well, I didn’t want to wake people up at 2 in the morning, so I had the bright idea to use my uncle’s ladder (he had a roofing company in addition to his night job) to climb up to the 2nd-story deck that was off my room. Well, the grass was dewy, and I’m going up this ladder that is aluminum and just has the cylindrical steps (i.e. not wide platforms). I get to the top, but I had placed the ladder against the floor of the deck. So I have to reach up to pull myself up and over the handrail.

I grabbed one of the little pieces of wood that ran from the floor of the deck up to the handrail. And as I put more and more of my weight into it, all of a sudden the whole piece just pops right out of the deck, so I’m just holding it, still standing at the top of the ladder in my wet sandals on a cylindrical step at 2 in the morning. (I am not sober, if that helps the story along.)

I think it was more my panic than an actual jolt from the unexpected give of the wood, but next thing I know my feet have fallen through the holes in the ladder. So I fall about three feet and my butt lands on the steps of the ladder. The top of the ladder loses its connection with the deck, and the ladder comes down, with me still sitting on like the 3rd rung from the top.

As I fall, I reached out to grab the floor of the deck, but didn’t grab it. Instead I scraped the insides of my forearms as I slid down.

Now I don’t know how this is possible, but I landed and was totally fine. You would think I easily could have broken my legs or ankles or something, because (to repeat) I fell from the second story while sitting IN a ladder.

In retrospect, what must have happened is that the ladder and I went straight down, and so I didn’t get my feet or legs caught under it as it hit the ground. So I just ended up, dazed, sitting on top of the ladder.

What’s really funny is that not only didn’t I hurt myself, but after the fall my back felt much better. During grad school my back got perpetually sore, but it was cured for a day or two after the fall.

Now I know, an atheist could easily explain what happened; no need to posit angels supporting me. And yep, you could find all kinds of crazy cases where people die who “shouldn’t have” from crazy accidents a la Final Destination 2. (I didn’t see the first one so maybe the premise is the same.)

Nonetheless, given that I believe in the Christian God, I totally think He saved me from my stupidity that night, just as surely as I have prevented my own son from seriously hurting himself on several occasions.

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