Friday, February 6, 2009

Brilliance (Mine) and Guardian Angels (God's)

I know I posted some of these pictures of my black eye before, and I know y'all probably don't want to see more. But, I can't stop thinking about how it happened.

It's not a big deal at all. I'm 100% fine and so is my eye, even if my pride still stings a little. That's exactly the thing, though: it's not a big deal, though it very easily could have been a huge deal.

(Morning after, quite swollen)

What happened was this: We have a weight lifting thingy in our house. I was taking the weights off the bench press bar, thinking that the bar itself was heavy enough to stay down when the disc weights were off one end. All three of my male housemates, who have weight lifted for real for years, say they've done exactly the same thing (which makes me feel better). They also said that works most of the time, "unless you're dealing with a cheap home set".

Which, evidently, is what we have.

The instant I slid the last weight off the right end of bar, the weighted left end plummeted to the floor, swinging the right end of this 50 pound solid steel bar up through the air. The left end slammed into the floor and the right side swung around and fell into the window. I stood stunned, thinking, "Wow, that could have really hurt me."

Two of my girl roommates were standing behind me. "Oh my God! Andie, did it hit you?"

"No." ...I don't think so, anyway.

"Did it break the window?"

I checked, then turned to them, laughing. "Nope! What a close--"

"You're bleeding!"

"What? No I--" I touched my forehead. Sure enough, they were right. They whisked me off to the kitchen, cleaned me up, and helped me find preemptive pain killers and an ice pack. We marveled that it didn't hurt at all -- I still barely felt it -- and how much worse the whole situation could have been. It was starting to sting, but I felt totally lucid and my eyeball istelf was (and remains) fine. I went to bed.

All the next day, as I deflected my students' questions about my shiner, my mind kept wandering back to what a nearly miraculous thing had happened, or perhaps not happened. I truly don't mean to make a big deal out of the whole thing or read too much into it, but had I been leaning even half an inch further forward -- which I had been a second earlier -- well, suffice it to say I don't think I would have gotten off with just a sweet shiner.

(Swelling down, colors becoming flashier.)

As I mulled all this over, I remembered the time my baby sister, at about two years old, escaped out the sliding door and was missing for about five minutes, until our mom found her in the middle of an intersection with cars coming at her from three or four sides.

(Tiny Baby Melissa, wearing everything in her dresser.)

And I remembered the time my best friend and I in my Grand Am were almost rammed by an SUV. And all the other times, as a kid, when I should have been seriously injured. And all the close-call stories my dad told me. And plenty of other stories in which, had one thing been a millimeter or a half second off, the ending would have been decidedly less happy.

I'm an odd sort of Catholic, probably because I wasn't really raised Catholic per say, and where some people have devotions rooted in childhood, I barely have an awareness. It's taken me years and conscious effort to get to know the Blessed Mother and make her a part of my life. Guardian angels, frankly, sat for a long time in the same place in my brain as fairies.

Like my faith in God itself, though, I am beginning to find the existence and presence of angels an undeniable reality.

See, I don't believe in luck or coincidences. That I and so many I know have skirted disaster so many times does not mesh with pure chance. Like so many other things, my rational brain forces me to look elsewhere for an explanation. It makes perfect sense that the same loving God who made us and redeemed us would keep us safe from our own brilliance, and would do so through whatever means He knows will serve us best.

I could easily have broken something not easily fixed, either on me or the window, or gashed myself wide open. I should have, in fact. If you look closely at those pictures, you can see several neat and parallel scrapes along my eyebrow from the threads of the bar brushing right by my eye. Could we explain this away with simple chance? Sure, this one event, but that leaves... well, pretty much the rest of my life to account for.

My nuns in the convent last year often prayed to their guardian angels, and often had the kids do so as well. A few weeks ago, in a situation where I was concerned about my safety, without thinking I called on my guardian angel and instantly felt assured and secure. My point (finally) is that I'm finally paying some attention to my angel and hoping to get better acquainted.
That, and giving him some public recognition for keeping my graceful tail out of trouble and my eyeballs intact for almost twenty-four years.


Joe said...

"Chance is perhaps the peudonym God uses when He does not want to sign his work."

- Anatole France

Wonderful post!

supermanz said...

Of course you start doing things that I would be proud of and you almost blind yourself! By the way, the bar was most likely 45 lbs, that's the standard weight of Olympic bars. Of course, if yours is a crappy home set it may be more like only 25-35 lbs. Just saying...

Kinda reminds me of the time Chris X accidentally smashed me in the face with a solid metal putter swinging it full out. As soon as he hit me I recognized that it was not a good thing, but it didn't hurt. I just calmly went inside and told my mom and of course, they started freaking out when they saw the swelling and the blood. Cool stuff :)

Andie said...

Thanks, Joe! :)

Markus: I think I was couting the weights on the other end in my estimate, since they would have factored into the force with with the free end whapped my face. Actually, it was probably more like 70 lbs. Whatever. It coulda messed me up, is my point.

Lindsay said...

Wow, that is intense! I've had near misses with my guardian angel, too, mostly while driving. There's a reason I keep an angel charm clipped to my visor AND a second hanging from the rearview mirror.

I don't believe in luck, either! My friend Brother Peter Martyr Joseph (formerly Patrick) always used to say, "Luck is for pagans." I'm not that hardcore, but I always wish people grace and blessings instead of luck. I'm sure Brendan really thinks I'm nuts for it, but he always wishes me grace and blessings anyway. :)

lizsheartrevealed said...

Okay, okay, so a giant stapler did not eat you... in fact, your story is much better, cooler, and altogether scarier than what I had envisioned. Love you!!