Monday, September 17, 2012

The Guidance of One's Path

I have had several moments in my life where I have felt a presence, a guidance of sorts, even warnings, perhaps. 
Some may refer to these instances as Divine Intervention, Women's Intuition, or Deja Vu. Some may even refer to them as something along the lines of the paranormal, or unexplainable, the Heavenly. 

This past April, I had one such moment in my life; one of many. It was my birthday, and the family and I were going to drive from Southern California to Las Vegas, Nevada, to visit my father, whose birthday is the day following mine. 
Those of you who have driven the 15 Freeway to Vegas can attest that, although busy, the road is a desolate one. 
You can go for miles and miles in the desert without seeing anything or anyone except fellow travelers. It is literally in the middle of nowhere, especially once you get past Baker, where the world's largest thermometer is. 
 We were several miles east of Baker, heading up a steep grade, when the dog started getting antsy and let us know she needed a pit stop. My son, Justin, was driving and he was looking for a place to pull over. But when he would start to slow down, I kept saying," no, this doesn't feel right. Keep driving."
Finally, I felt the timing was right to pull over and he did so when I told him to.

The Tamarisk tree where we stopped.
Now, this stretch of desolate highway is littered with nasty, scrubby, brushy tree every so often. Ugly trees called Tamarisks that are natural magnets for all kinds of debris blowing along the highway. Many times, you will find shoes lofted into the higher branches.
 There is such a Tamarisk where we pulled off on this day.... We have passed at least 50 similar trees the past mile or so, but we have stopped at this one.
My son gets out. My husband gets out with the dog. And my granddaughter, who is 8 years old, starts to get out. 
Usually, this is a normal thing for her so she can explore for rocks, etc. I normally wouldn't inhibit this natural curiosity she possesses,  but this time I snapped at her as she reached for the door handle and told her to stay in the car. I didn't feel right about her getting out. She asked why and I told her I just didn't feel safe this time.
I started freaking myself out, becoming increasingly paranoid, telling myself as I looked at the tree in front of me that "wouldn't it be creepy if there was someone under that tree?? " 
It was completely illogical as we were in the middle of nowhere
and it was 100 degrees outside in the desert sun. It just didn't make sense to think that way. I was being silly. 
But, the feeling didn't go away. I stared at the tree and didn't see anything. But was still very uneasy. 
As the feeling continued to linger, I took notice of a large knife my husband had recently purchased. It was stuffed between the truck's driver seat and the center console. And I thought that I could easily grab it if I needed it ... But was worried about how I would get the knife to my son or husband if they needed to defend themselves should there be someone lurking; watching.
 Just when I had told myself for the third or fourth time that I was freaking myself put and to knock it off, my son ran up to my door and opened it yelling at me that he needed my bottle of water because there was a dehydrated, delusional man underneath the tree!!!
Sure enough, somebody HAD been under that tree and I had felt their presence.
So my son took him the water, unarmed, while I gained better access to that knife, just in case. 
My son came back a few moments later, as my husband and I wearily and guardedly watched; on hand on my phone to call 911 should I need to. He returned to me and asked if we had any food for the man. I gave my son some left over donuts we had picked up earlier. (Hmmm...I'm sensing a theme in some of my stories  God & Donuts.. click here
The man had asked Justin to not call the police. He was homeless and was always run out of the places where he sought refuge. Today, he had taken refuge under that tree and thought he'd perhaps die there. I repeatedly asked my son if I needed to call an ambulance, my hand still perched on my phone's keypad.  But, my son said the man was starting to make more sense as he drank the water. 
Obviously, we couldn't offer him a ride with a small child with us. Even had she not been with us, I've seen too many scary movies to take any chances. However, we gave him what we could and assured him we wouldn't call the authorities. I thought long and hard about calling an ambulance, but I didn't sense an urgency to call,  so I didn't. We left him there and pulled back onto the freeway with a sense of WOW, what just happened!!??

Now, as we drove along, I started to take inventory of what had just happened, as well as the moments leading to that decision to pull off the road at that exact location, at that exact time. I realized two extreme factors leading to that moment. 
That morning, on the way out of town, my husband offered to take us to IHOP for my birthday breakfast. I declined,  saying that I was craving donuts. I have not purchased a box of donuts in years!  
Also, we had stopped in Barstow at the McDonalds train tourist trap. My parents had always stopped there when I was a kid, so I wanted to take my granddaughter there. You know, kinda make it a family tradition. We all looked around and got something to drink before heading back to the truck.
 When I travel, I ALWAYS drink Diet Coke.  I always have an extra large fountain drink of diet coke in the cup holder. But this one time, I told my husband that I just really felt like having water. 
I NEVER buy bottled water while traveling. But this day I bought two large bottles of Aquafina.
When we found that man, I had water to offer him (had I purchased a Diet Coke, the sodium would have made him all the more thirsty)
When we found that man, I had food to offer him (had we eaten at IHOP, we wouldn't have taken any leftovers with us). 
I was led to that tree and had what that man needed !!!! 
The realization about the food and water wasn't apparent to me right away. But as we drove along the freeway, the more I thought about things, and the more things fell into place. This is like a weird, paranormal thing I get from time to time. 
I don't always know how to explain such things... God, the Universe, coincidence? I know how I was raised to believe, but much of what I sense sometimes defies the teachings. I just don't know. What  I do know is this was one of the strongest instances I have yet to have experienced. 
I updated facebook as we drove along, relaying the craziness of all that had just unfolded to my fb friends. One by one, they shared their awe. One friend shared a most precious observation: How wonderful a gift it was for my birthday to witness the selflessness of my child as he cared for that man, putting his own safety aside to help one he knew was in need. It was a proud moment, for sure.
My kids, husband, and friends listen to me now when I say I don't feel right about something or if I have a dream.  Much of the time, it is nothing more than a feeling. But there are more than just a few instances that make me realize I'd better heed to this guidance. 
Listen to your feelings, friends, the  guidance of your path may be from a power unseen, but certainly not unfelt.We just need to learn to recognize when the guidance is there.
 "And this, our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything."  ~William Shakespeare 

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