“Miracles are not contrary to nature, but only contrary to what we know about nature.” ~Saint Augustine
Some years ago my family and I were traveling in Alberta, Canada, between Edmonton and Jasper, on Canada 16. We stopped to eat at Tim Hortons. Next door, I noticed, was a gas station. Since the gas gauge of my Ford Windstar was on empty, I figured it’d be a good place to fill up after we were done eating. But when we came out of the restaurant, the line was so long, I just hopped in the minivan and kept driving.
Someone noticed the gauge. “Mom, why didn’t you get gas!”
“The line was too long. I figured I’d go somewhere else.”
With a “we’re not in Kansas anymore” attitude: “Mom, those cars were there because there is nowhere else to go! … So, turn around and go back! … Now!”
The working gas gauge was well below the red line. “Oh, there’ll be something around the next bend, you’ll see.”
To conserve gas, I slowed down. I was a little worried—and praying—but the person in the front passenger seat was almost biting her nails—and she was not a nail-biter.
I was remembering back in the 1970s, during the energy crisis, when they rolled up the sidewalks at sunset, and, on interstates, even on a Saturday night, you drove through dark stretches of cities that used to be well-lit. You feared to get caught in the outback lest you ran out of gas and couldn’t find a station open. A coworker had told us he knew he had driven home on fumes, because there couldn’t have been any gas in that car. He was not joking. He was serious, and there were tears in his eyes. He knew in his heart God had taken care of him. A special Providence.
If he could do it, I could do it.
But that was one of the tensest hours I ever passed!
Sure enough, after over 60 miles—to the tune of “Hallelujah,” “Praise the Lord,” “Thank You, Jesus,” and “I’ll never do that again”—we happened on a Husky gas station, filled up, and got cold drinks.
At the time it seemed like a miracle—I still call it one—but someone has since told me that a tank can hold enough residual gas to go 60 miles. After it’s already in the basement below the red line? Wonder what is the farthest someone has gone on residual gas?
A little farther up the road—or down the road if you’re looking at a map (you go north so you can travel south)—we were cruising Alberta 93, the Icefields Parkway, through Banff National Park. If you’ve ever been there, you know how beautiful it is. We stopped at the Athabasca Glacier, one of the “toes” of the Columbia Icefields, parked, and tried to do the trek. It didn’t work out too well, because you cannot breathe easily at that altitude. I stopped and surrendered. “You go on. I’ll wait here.” Family soon returned. “You can’t go on without me?” They couldn’t breathe either.
So we went across the highway to a visitor center. When I got out of the van, I noticed the front grill was matted solid with prairie grass. A crochet needle might get that out, I thought, but it’d take a long time. Pulling all those little pieces of grass out one by one. Like plucking a beard one hair at a time. All the other cars in the parking lot had the same affliction: matted front-end grills. “It’s not good for that stuff to be in there,” I told the fam. “The car can’t breathe … But I don’t know what to do about it.”
We went inside the center to see about taking a bus or tram, the Brewster Ice Explorer, to the glacier. While we were milling around, I saw a plaque on the wall, telling a story about a ticket-bearing traveler who was walking across the glacier, fell through a hole, and was never heard from again. Thank God, no one had gone on without me! Totally ignoring how much I’d already paid to come to Banff, I decided right there on the spot I didn’t like their prices. “Let’s forget it. Too late in the day,” I told the family. “Let’s just get back in the car and keep on the parkway.”
We headed back to the Windstar, and to my surprise there were these big black birds—ravens—about a dozen maybe—pecking at my grill. In the 15 or so minutes we’d been inside they’d about pecked it clean. Mine was the only car they’d touched. Not interested anymore, they flew away.
God had sent the ravens to clean my grill!
“Miracles exist in part as gifts and in part as clues that there is something beyond the flat world we see.” ~Peggy Noonan
Copyright © 2012 Alexandra Lee