The most immediate answer, of course, is that I saw a hospital sign.
But I had no need of a hospital.
And before that, there was the sign for “Blackhorse”. I must have driven too far, I thought…
So I turned. I did not know where I was heading but that didn’t really matter so much. It just seemed time for a turn since I clearly wasn’t in the right place.
Perhaps I should tell you how all of this got started. It sounds like kind of a strange story, I know, but there is an explanation.
I had the day off from work today. For some unknown reason, no patients wanted to see me today so it became an opportunity to do other things.
While my car was being serviced at the dealership this morning, I received an e-mail from an aspiring psychologist at my alma mater indicating that I had been accepted as a subject in a research study for which I had volunteered. When could I come?
I could not easily make any of the many time selections she offered so, on a whim, I suggested today as a possibility. If, by chance, she had time free. She gladly agreed to meet me at 5:30 PM. I left Cleveland early to avoid traffic, was held up by two major accidents and arrived just in time.
Having completed a number of tedious tasks in exchange for delightful conversation and a small stipend, I decided that it would be fun to drive by the house where I had lived when myself a graduate student. These twenty-five years later, I did not even know if the house was still standing.
The University and its surrounding terrain have changed considerably in the decades since I last visited but, I thought, having driven the route so many times, I would surely find my way to my old home. Actually, I knew that there was a good possibility that I might not – but I felt open for a bit of adventure.
It is strange how an openness to adventure can strike at the least opportune times. It was nearly 8:30 in the evening and I had not yet eaten my dinner. There were many other tasks awaiting me.
I must also clarify that I am not at all prone to impulsive decisions and I am typically quite conscious of my carbon footprint, lest I burn fuel for no particular reason.
Another dimension to the story at hand is my habit of praying while I drive, aided by audio recordings, most often the Rosary.
When I began my excursion to the University, I had already said the Mysteries of the Rosary designated for Mondays, the Joyful. However, when I passed the second accident, with ambulance and firetruck blocking the road, it occurred to me that praying for those in the accident was far more important than any delay it caused me.
So I prayed the next set of Mysteries, the Sorrowful, while I completed the first leg of my journey.
After my volunteering was complete and I had set out on my little adventure, I thought, “Why not?” and began yet another set of Mysteries, the Glorious.
When I saw the sign for Blackhorse, Ohio, and realized I had likely gone too far, I briefly pondered what to do. However, the hospital sign was my cue. There was a hospital at the end of the road where I had lived. If I follow the signs to the hospital, perhaps that would bring me round to the familiar area.
(Now I might mention that I do have a GPS with my cell phone but the battery was quickly bleeding away its juice. I could use the car charger if really necessary, I thought, but let me just follow that sign…)
So I turned – and saw nothing familiar. Nothing at all. But this did not worry or upset me.
Daylight lingers long as spring gives birth to summer. All afternoon, promising clouds had huddled and whispered of showers but left nothing behind. There was no reason for me not to linger a moment and see…
Interesting little houses spotted each side of the street, interrupted by casualties of an endless battle waged against rural decay.
I drank all of this in as I drove and drove. No signs of the hospital. No more signs for the hospital. Nothing familiar, but pleasantly interesting in its brand newness to me.
Why did I turn here?
On the other hand, I felt no inclination to turn back. After all, every road leads somewhere and it seemed that I was meant to follow.
“Oh!” I gasped.
There it was. This was why I had turned here. It was right before me.
I was coming upon a bridge and there was no shoulder on the road where I could pull over. I glanced in the rear view mirror. No cars. I looked ahead. No cars. In fact, it appeared as though perhaps there never had been cars – nor would there ever be any.
I popped the trunk open. Putting on my emergency flashers and pausing the Glorious Mysteries, I emerged from the car to retrieve camera who, as always, eagerly awaited any adventure he was offered.
Standing there, together, alone on the bridge in the middle of places unknown, we received a glorious mystery, left there just for us.
No matter how I adjust or crop this image, it does not portray the glory of what we received. So brilliant, so unexpected, shining forth out of darkness in this unknown place to announce the Light.
It is Light. It is Glorious. It is Mystery.
This is why I turned. I was led and had to follow.
A priceless thing…