A Matter of Faith: ‘You’re alright on this side, mama …’

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    By Sharee Grazda
    PREVIEW Columnist

    What would seem so long ago to my children, if they were to have any recollection at all, was the time we lived in northeast Mississippi and life took an unexpected turn on the road home.

    Green, lush, sweetly scented — lots of beauty, lots of great food, lots of wonderful people — and lots of deer.

    For Christmas, their grandmother had given our three sons wonderful step-in, zip-up, pull-up-the-hood bright red snowsuits. How they loved those outfits. And how many times a day did I help little boy feet and legs and hands and arms in and out of them.

    One dark evening we were on our way home after a work day for me and babysitting for the boys. All bundled up, they were in their beloved snowsuits and I in my equally-loved camel hair coat with the big fur-lined hood. Winter in the Deep South is very cold.

    A few miles from home, on a two-lane road outlined by dark, heavy forests of huge pine trees, I spotted a doe on the side of the road. Glancing in my rearview mirror for trailing traffic, I slowly braked and watched to see what she would do. Darting quickly, she crossed the road in front of us — then suddenly and unexpectedly turned and flew into the air as if she wanted to jump the car and get back to the other side.

    I remember thinking, “Hold the wheel steady and keep it between the lines.”

    A terrible crashing noise and splintering glass flying all over the inside of the car brought the realization that she had not cleared us but had landed in the windshield — directly in front of me.

    The round shape of her lower body was impressed in the glass which had come loose from the frame starting at the rear view mirror, all the way left to the top corner and all the way down to the bottom corner. It fell inward a couple inches, still in one large sheet, though totally shattered and impossible to see through.

    A quick check revealed that my son in the front seat and I had flecks of blood on our faces from glancing cuts, but the tiny boys in the back were fine, sitting so low that they were protected from the flying glass.

    (Let me say, “Thank you, windshield glass scientists, for creating glass that safely shattered into tidbits rather than life-threatening shards.”) 

    Rolling down my side window, and the front passenger window, I turned to my 5-year-old son and said, “Love, you’re gonna have to help me stay on the road until we get home.”

    Carefully, I drove the final miles home with my head stuck out the window to the refrain of a little boy looking out his window and saying, repeatedly, and reassuringly, “You’re alright on this side, mama … you’re alright.”

    Slowly, but surely, we made it home, where we discovered that all four of us had hair, hoods, even pockets and socks, full of tiny bits of glass.

    It seems like just a few chapters back in my memory book, though it has been over 40 years since that event occurred.

    Even now, I thank my Heavenly Father as I remember that and many such rescues. My thankfulness is sweetened by the memory of my young son doing his part, being so diligent, so earnest, in helping me “keep it between the lines.”

    He was the only help I had at the time and he rose to the occasion. No one could have helped me more. Together, we got our family safely home and it was a good feeling. As I tucked him into bed that night, I thanked him and told him what a great help he was to me that day. 

    Though our outward circumstances are varied, inside our needs are the same. It is essential to our emotional, physical and spiritual well-being that we have companions on the road of life whom we trust to help us stay in the straight and narrow and to get ourselves and our loved ones safely home.

    Our need may come suddenly, and our help just as unexpectedly.

    A drive home after a day’s work suddenly became a life-threatening emergency. My helper that day was a very small boy. He gave all he was capable of giving, and did it earnestly and responsibly. He helped get us home. 

    Who is helping you keep it between the lines?

    Is there someone who can use your help?

    “Like apples of gold in a setting of silver is a word aptly spoken.”

    A favorite proverb, these words bring to mind the treasure we can share by a kind word, a sweet word, an uplifting word, at the right time. 

    The apostle Paul wrote to his friend Timothy, close enough to be addressed as “my dear son,” that we are to be prepared in season and out of season, to correct and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction — and to “keep our heads” in every situation.

    Words given honestly and earnestly, “… the fruit of lips that confess the name of Jesus …,” may spur one and all toward love and good deeds — and guide our feet onto the path of peace.

    ‘You’re alright on this side, friend … you’re alright.”