It was the kind of day when everything was going wrong. I could recite a litany of all the mishaps and disasters. I knew I needed a lifeline by 10 a.m., so I phoned a friend, my sister, who is a Daughter of Charity and a powerful pray-er.
I had just shared (spilled) coffee with someone in a failed work meeting, so I sat in my car in the Starbucks parking lot as Sister Julie prayed with me and gave me a pep talk. I breathed in God’s grace—more in faith than in feeling—and hung up. I felt better.
Backing out, hopeful for a better remainder of the day, WHAM! I backed into a woman backing into me. What? Are you kidding?I got out and headed to her car. “I can’t believe that just happened!” I said. Words of incredulity poured from me. She sat silent in the driver’s seat, writing out her contact and insurance information. Following her example, I fell silent and wrote out mine.
When she tore the paper out of her pad, and I gave her my page, I said, “I notice you have a rosary hanging from your mirror. Are you a Catholic?”
Several others things also hung there. She hesitated. Was it because she wasn’t sure how to answer the question? Was she having a crisis of faith? She finally said, “Yes.”
“I’m a Catholic too,” I replied.
Tears began to run down her cheeks. “I had breast cancer surgery last week,” she said.
“Can I pray for you?” I asked. She nodded, so I put my hand on her shoulder and began the most impassioned, heartfelt, storm-heaven kind of prayer I could think of. I guess I was feeling mad at God that this woman was getting hit with cancer, and hit by me, and I started to demand miracles for her.
Now this was not the first time I’ve prayed over someone. And sometimes, I can feel a person cringing under my hand on their shoulder, as if they can’t wait for me to stop. But this woman reached up, gripped my hand, and held it there. I don’t know if my prayer was too long or too short. Whatever it was, it was full of faith. And when I finished, she thanked me.
“I will pray for you all day,” I said and meant it.
And then she hugged me. “Have nice holidays,” she said as we parted.
As I walked to my car, I looked at the paper with her name and insurance information. Preprinted at the top was: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I say: Rejoice! —Philippians 4:4.”
What just happened to me? Did I run into an angel? She wished me happy holidays?
That accident was a few weeks ago, and still I pray for the woman in the other car. I’ve asked friends and family to pray for her too. “God, bring good out of this,” I pray.
“It’s no accident you ran into her,” a friend said. I laughed out loud. With God, nothing is mere coincidence.
What holy incidents and happy accidents have occurred to you?