Thursday, April 9, 2009

Who's that Lady?

Every now and then beautiful angels appear cleverly disguised as ordinary human beings.
~ Adele Basheer

They say that guardian angels walk among us--always with us--guiding our thoughts, actions, what we see and hear; showing up at just the right time with just the message we need to hear.
One of mine appeared to me as a Gina Rowlands look-alike.
I was driving cross-country, headed west, when, somewhere outside of Memphis, traveling North on I-65, I found myself in a massive traffic situation. I strained to find the I-40 freeway exchange that would take me towards Colorado. There was so much traffic, and not one sign pointed to I-40. In fact, I saw nothing even remotely similar to the directions I carried.
Now I've driven in some crazy places. Generally speaking, traffic doesn't scare me. But this was different. Cars were flying past me, left and right, cutting sharply from lane to lane as they all tried to be in the right place at the right time to make their freeway exit. It felt like this road led everywhere and nowhere all at once. The thought of missing my west-bound exchange and trying to navigate my way from the other direction unnerved me. So I made a split-second decision and took the next exit. I had no idea where I was, but I knew that stopping sooner than later would allow me to look at my road atlas, get my bearings and perhaps avoid a traffic disaster.
As I neared the end of the exit ramp I saw nothing--I'm talking ghost town as far as the eye could see--except for an old, abandoned gas station, its windows covered with boards and unruly weeds and grass growing between the cracks in the asphalt. It was sketchy, for sure, but broad daylight, and I thought it would be okay to stop there for a few minutes and get myself sorted out.
Sitting in my little sports car--motor running, windows up, doors locked--I spread my atlas across the passenger seat, looking between my written directions and the small detail of the map. Just then, a car pulled up--a dark blue tank of a Cadillac--driven by a woman with white-blonde hair, pulled back in a large bow. I noticed that she had a handicap decal hanging from her rear-view mirror as she circled my car, finally stopping on the passenger side with a gesture suggesting I roll down my window.
"Honey, you need to get outta here right now," she said in her thick southern drawl.
Her excitement caught me off guard.
"Where are you headed?" She asked.
"I'm looking for the I-40 exchange, headed west," I yelled through the open window.
"Well, honey, you need to follow me; I'll take you right to it. But you need to go now. You need to leave right now," she repeated calmly through her smile. "I'll drive you to your exit and then I'll pull over and point where you need to go, it'll be an awkward left turn but I'll let you know when we're getting close."
"Okay," I said, feeling slightly nervous but grateful for her help. Who is this woman and what is she doing in the middle of nowhere? I wondered. "Wait, what's your name? I want to thank you for helping me."
"Just call me your guardian angel,” she said with a wink and a smile, tipping her head. “No thanks necessary. Come on now, let's get moving . . ."
She pulled out of the parking lot, driving slowly at first, and we meandered some 3 miles down these winding, nowhere roads--a few turns here and there—then, true to her word, as we neared the exit, she pulled off on the right-hand shoulder of the road and stuck her arm out of the window, waving wildly and pointing left, motioning for me to exit. And off I went.
For the next two hours I drove in complete silence--no music, no cell phone chit-chat, no distractions--just me and my awe-filled thoughts of wonder about this guardian angel. And though I had no way of knowing what could have happened—what would have happened—had she not appeared, had I lingered in that parking lot one minute longer or entered the freeway one second later, in my heart, I knew that she had saved me from misfortune.
As we move through life, I think it’s important that we keep our eyes, ears and hearts open—all of our senses, really—to the messages around us, even those that come in unlikely forms. You never know when someone you encounter may be an earth-angel, there to help you, protect you, teach you or bring you into higher levels of yourself.
No matter the form, experience has taught me well. Angels, indeed, walk among us . . . or drive, as the case may be.
By Melissa Johnson
This article is dedicated to my beloved Grandfather, Karl Mason. April 9, 1919 -- July 17, 2008. In your new spirit form may you be a guiding light for others, just as you were here on earth. Happy Birthday.

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