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By Robin Browne
New year offers a chance to renew the promises we made to ourselves at the onset of the last New Year. How many of us make a commitment not to waste idle hours on insignificant activities but to strive towards being good managers of our time. Life is precious, a gift from God, it should be lived to the fullest yet most of us fail to realize how true these words can be be…
One subzero evening several years ago in the heart of a Michigan winter I slipped on the ice which lay hidden below several inches of freshly fallen snow. No contortionist could ever imagine putting their body in the mangled shape that I assumed. Too painful to describe in detail. Was I to drag myself towards the street in the hope somebody may find me or claw myself several hundred feet towards the back door where warmth and a telephone awaited me? Some thirty minutes later the door was within reach but lack of strength and indescribable pain meant I could not reach the handle from my collapsed position. Little point in knocking on the door, for only our dog was on the other side, and my wife was staying for a few days with our daughter down south. I was well aware of the incredibly low temperature and losing my hat when slithering like a snake to the rear entrance. I realized that freezing to death was not an option but an inevitability.
The moon climbed higher in the sky, my only guide to how much time had passed. Shouting for help was like a lone voice crying in the wilderness, no one could possibly hear me as my distant neighbors to the north and south were snuggled in for the night. Praying for a miracle was the only avenue left to contemplate.
I had faced death on a few occasions but lived to tell the tale. Once, I was separated from our party in a thick fog three thousand feet below base camp on Everest. That was another very cold experience! Fifty years ago when flying over Baja California, we came in contact with another aircraft and hurtled toward the ocean below, but recovered before crashing. What faced me was a different situation; the chances of being discovered nigh impossible. I thought about the life I had lived, my family and whether I was at peace with myself. If given the option to live life over again I would change nothing.
After almost two hours an extraordinary feeling came over me. I began to become warmer and warmer and had no fear of dying, it was now just a matter of time. Hyperthermia had set in my legs and other limbs were numb. I thought of what my father in law once said to the heart specialist, “If the water in my brain freezes will things slip my memory” ? The snow began to fall and with it the silence that always accompanied it. The line from ‘Silent Night’ seemed so relevant… “sleep in heavenly peace”. Covered with a layer of snow, I became part of the winter landscape, closed my eyes, and thought about my family.
Suddenly, that silence was broken by the slamming of doors. My neighbors to the south were returning home and rather than drive directly into their garage, which is their practice, they alighted outside. I mustered the strength to cry out. Within five minutes the cavalry came over the hill and seconds later an ambulance arrived to rush me to hospital. Was this just good luck or Divine intervention? There is no question in my mind. Miracles can happen and prayers can be answered. As William Wordsworth once said; “God fulfills himself in many ways”.
There are more things wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.. Cherish the moment!