There we were, buzzing along on a nice, straight stretch of Wisconsin highway. We were on our way to a confirmation in Iowa. Suddenly Mark — my husband — shouted, “Look out!”
Too late. All at once I saw the deer, heard the crunch and felt the impact. The headlights went out and the van careened out of control. There was no moon, no streetlights, no farm lights nearby — just pitch blackness. I wrestled with the steering wheel, trying to bring the van under control. Never mind that I had no idea where the road ended and some other type of terrain began.
“I can’t find the road,” I prayed to my guardian angel. “Do something!” By now the boys had awakened and I called out, “Stay calm, everybody. Just stay calm.”
After a few tummy churners, the van finally ground to a halt. I had no clue where we’d landed. My first thought was that, if we were in the middle of the highway, oncoming traffic wouldn’t be able to see us. I grabbed my cell phone and dialed 911.
A police officer and sheriff’s deputy arrived minutes later. One of the deer had disappeared into the darkness. The one that bore the brunt of the collision lay struggling on the roadside. The officer kindly put it out of its misery with a single shot. Then he took me aside.
“I want to show you something, Ma’am,” he said. He put his hand on my shoulder and shone his light back along the highway. “See all those skid marks?” he asked. I nodded. “Ma’am, it’s absolutely amazing that you were able to keep that vehicle on the road. One more foot or two and you’d have gone off that steep shoulder over there. I don’t know how you did it.”
“I do,” I replied. “It was my guardian angel.” I looked over my shoulder to where the van had come to rest. It was on the right shoulder, just far enough over to be out of traffic. One of my favorite Scriptures instantly came to mind. Psalm 91:11-12: “For he will give his angels charge of you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.”
The officers arranged for the van to be towed to a local body shop and for us to stay overnight at the Eagle Creek Inn, a quaint and historic hotel nearby. It was a block from a Catholic church, so we’d be able to attend Sunday Mass the next morning.
On the way back to the hotel after Mass, we noticed something we’d missed the night before. Eagle Creek Inn’s banquet room is called Niehaus Hall. It shares a name with the family name of two young priests we know.
“You know what?” I said to my family. “Last night as we were driving past this place, I was intrigued. I wished I could come back and stay here sometime.”
“I can’t believe it,” Luke exclaimed. “Mom, this is all your fault! You made a wish and an hour later it was granted. Do us a favor, will you? Don’t make any more wishes.”
“Okay, guys,” Mark interjected. “This is it. I’m making a new rule. Mom’s not allowed to make any more wishes from now on. Mom, your wish-making days are over.”
Not so fast. We could have dashed more than our feet upon a stone that night. But we didn’t, thanks to my guardian angel. My wish now is that everyone remembers his or her guardian angel. Not just when the lights go out on a dark and dangerous road, but always and everywhere.
Marge Fenelon writes from