Advent begins this weekend and as we know, it is a Season of waiting, of hoping, of preparing and of giving.
I’d like to share what happened yesterday. This particular choir of Angels included people from New Hampshire, Schroon Lake, Peru, Plattsburgh, Ausable, and Chateagay Lake – just to name a few. What happened you ask and what does this have to do with Advent? Well, since you asked……a wonderful past mission traveler graciously offered to bring a 12 passenger van loaded with supplies from our Retreat Center in New Hampshire which has closed. These supplies will assist not only people in Nica, but also some local families in crisis. So, she started her trek (much like Mary and Joseph) except she had a 5 year old and a 6 year old nestled in the van among all the items.
As she neared our warehouse (10 miles from us), she pulled over- partially because her Mapquest directions took her a round about way and partially because there was an ambulance approaching. As she backed up in this long driveway to turn around, life suddenly got very challenging and very interesting because there was a culvert (not well visible) and she backed into a ditch. Yes, a loaded 12 passenger van, two little ones and the weather was turning colder as the minutes passed.
So, 4 of us from the Mission drove out to find her and meet up with her, while one stayed behind, keeping the “home fires” burning at the warehouse. When we pulled up, I truly thought “Oh NOOOOOO”- this is not good and our angel from Chateaugay Lake immediately hopped into action, only to find that there was no way he could pull the van out with his truck. It was about this time that the rest of us heard the voices of children yet could not see them. Yes, the two little ones were snuggled among the items in the van, quite content. Our two angels from Peru helped move supplies so the two little ones could get out of the van.
Then, 4 local service stations called and a AAA call later, we had a rescue and more angels on the way. Shortly after, another angel, a State Police officer showed up as well. It then became our concern to have the children get out of the van, hop into my warm vehicle so they’d be safe while the tow truck did its job. Two of our crew had to return home to care for other children and other tasks. As the children sat in my car, I asked them if they liked Christmas music, only to hear a resounding YES. As only angels would have it, a familiar song came on the radio station and I began to sing (and “sing” is relative because I don’t sing and honestly thought I might not be able to be a nun because I couldn’t sing!!!). When the two little ones began to chime in, the thought came to me: “Even in the midst of all this mess, these two little ones were smiling, singing, and revealing their innocence via their genuine childlike joy”. It touched me so much that I had to fight back the tears.
Meanwhile, outside, it began to get much colder, we had a short douse of sleet…yes…there is often a natural phenomenon to accompany “God events”. However, instead of a “North Star”, our North Country phenomenon at that moment was cold, sleet and then wind- lots of wind.
As the vehicle was gently being pulled out of the ditch, we all suddenly realized that the roadside driveway reflector was struck and destroyed. Sooooo, the police officer pulled out his “accident report pad” and indicated he now had to do a report. Those of us remaining reacted with “please, let’s just see if we can pay for the reflector since it would only be a very few dollars”. The gracious police officer then drove up this VERY long driveway to the home of the owner, and drove back a few minutes later. He told us that he told the home owner that he told him it was Sr. Debbie and her Mission crew delivering donated supplies and what did the owner want the officer to do. The owner’s response was that given the situation and who was involved, he would simply take care of replacing the reflector himself.
And so, as Paul Harvey used to say…now, the rest of the story: We drove back and all the way to the warehouse, I’m thinking “it’s 2:30– we have to feed these two children and mom”, but the Chateaugay Lake angel was already on it. He stopped trying to buy a pizza, to no avail. So, after the children and we three remaining adults unloaded this van which was chucked to the gills with donations, the little 5 year old boy found a wrapped candy on the floor of the van and exclaimed: “Yea- I know whom I’m going to share this with”. I thought he meant his sister, but as hugs were shared and a little cash given to the mom to stop and feed the kids (which she only accepted reluctantly and with lots of urging), the little 5 year old boy tugged on the Chateugay Laker’s jacket, and gave him “the whole candy”. The man’s response to me: “I was happier than a pig in” ……you know the rest of that quote!
It took a choir of angels to turn what could have been a extremely expensive and dangerous event, into a true Advent/Christmas story..a story of:
WAITING- for rescue and warmth
HOPING- that the damage would be minimal and no one would be hurt
PREPARING- to get the donated items from a very sad situation at our retreat center to folks in great need, preparing to figure out how to best resolve the situation, preparing to unload and distribute these items which would soon give LIFE to other people in need….
GIVING: a hug, a candy that symbolized a human bonding, a heart to heart connection between a 5 year old boy and a man he had just met. GIVING a glimpse of angels from all over who helped in this rescue- garages, tow trucks, a police officer, a home owner, 5 Mission of Hope folks, Sisters at Berakah in NH who were so pleased to be able to give items to others even in the midst of their own grieving and letting go as they transitioned to the unknown. GIVING a glimpse of what it means to have a whole choir of angels becoming a piece of a modern day story of new beginnings, new life, renewed HOPE!
So, as you begin your Advent journey to Christmas, be open to the surprises God has in store for you, be open to ordinary experiences that can be God events and be open to a CHOIR OF ANGELS…