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December 14, 2009
Well, maybe not a miracle exactly. But certainly it was an adventure: black ice, a church bus and a young man with a chainsaw.

When do you think it will start snowing, someone asked me as we prepared for our last session. Just as we're getting on the road, I guessed, and it was so: sleety rain morphed into actual snow as we lost a critical few degrees Farenheit and sank below the point at which water freezes.

The roads are narrow and winding where western Connecticut meets the New York border, and the hills are many. The one we traveled as we set out for home wound along next to the Housatonic River, a ribbon of dark grey between its snowy banks, with a white frosting of rapids here and there. We inched our way -- so slowly -- up the dangerous sheen of a fairly steep hill,only to behold another one in our path. Nope: we would turn around and go back, take another road. But now we were headed down the treacherous hill, and we all fell quiet as, with mild horror, we felt a slow but inexorable swing in a direction other than the one in which we were headed. We ended up perpendicular to it, wedged in between a row of trees on one side and the river on the other, blocking the narrow road completely.

Oh, dear. We in the bus began to sing "He's Got the Whole World In His Hands."

Soon a sand truck appeared on its appointed rounds. Since it wouldn't be going around us anytime soon, the young woman running it began to sand our glassy hill, in anticipation of our eventual freedom. A police car with a Christmas tree tied onto its roof appeared, and soon a young man from one of the houses by the roadside drove up, standing up in his ATV like a charioteer, to check out the situation with the policeman, our driver and the sand truck lady. Nodding toward his house, he leapt onto his chariot and barrelled along the steep riverbank back toward it, reappearing with a chainsaw. In minutes, enough tree branches were on the ground to allow us the few more inches we needed to turn ourselves around in the road, and we backed and filled our way back into our own lane. We drove off, and the young charioteer started for home.

It took six hours to get from Connecticut to lower Manhattan, normally a two-hour drive. Then a subway and a train. Today I can barely move, so sore am I from all that sitting. Most miracles are a little faster than that one was, I think. Or are they? We were stuck on a country road far away from home, and now we're not. The miracle we got was sufficient for our needs, as -- by definition -- all miracles are. Because it's the people in the miracle who get to decide whether or not it was one.


This Wednesday and Thursday, December 16-17, Barbara Crafton visits Trinity Episcopal Church, Columbus, Ga. Call the church at 706-322-5569 for information about events connected with this visit.
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