As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often inadvertently called the Mormon Church, I feel a keen connection with the unseen spiritual world. I know the material world and the spiritual world are intimately joined. I know that once we use the Holy Ghost to access spiritual help, miracles happen. Because of the priesthood authority of God and the Holy Ghost, miracles are manifest all the time among Mormons, but some are astounding, and when you experience them, they become anchors to your faith all your life.
You have to know, before I tell you my story, that I was an un-athletic child. I seemed to know from the beginning that I couldn’t trust my slow reflexes and weak muscles for any sort of endeavor requiring speed and strength. In elementary school we had to play softball with the boys. I couldn’t pitch the ball from home plate to the pitcher’s mound on a softball diamond sized for little kids. I always batted the ball directly to first base, and as slowly as it traveled, I couldn’t keep up with it. The first baseman would patiently wait for me to gain on him before tagging me out.
I did, however, love swimming, and excelled at water ballet. Afraid to do any trick dives into the pool, I did, however, manage a single back flip off the low springboard. I could never do a front flip, though. I never had the power to get all the way over. This is important information for my story. Just so you know…
The Story of the Accident
The Europeans accuse us Americans of building our houses the way they build chicken coops out of sticks of wood. This makes them soft and safe, however. You can bang your head on the wall, and the wall gets dented instead of your head. Yes, our houses burn easily and blow over in storms, but they are easy to repair, and any girl can hang her own pictures, experimenting with the smallest nails and covering the holes in the flimsy drywall with the artwork. In Europe houses are stone and plaster and you need a drill and a screw. Heaven forbid you should make a mistake.
We were living in one such house, Americans living abroad. The floors were a gorgeous stone and the walls were plaster over stone. The ceilings were very high, because the summers were hot the warm air needed to rise. But those floors were killers cold as ice in the winter, and lethal if you fell and hit your head. We had been to the emergency room many times with our toddlers, and we weren’t alone. People all around us were having rough encounters with walls and floors. It just seemed like every surface was so hard out to get you, almost.
One night I stayed up late doing needlework. The light in the den was the only light on in the house. My husband and oldest son were off exploring Egypt, and the other kids and two college-age guests were asleep. At night I would always leave the light on in the vestibule between the main part of the house and a family room on the other side. This vestibule was on the far side of a stairwell leading down to the under-house garage, and the ceiling-light there was enough to lend an unenthusiastic, but useful, glow to both sides of the house. As I finished my project and decided to head to bed, I intended to go and turn on that light. I extinguished the den light and proceeded to make my way through utter darkness to the vestibule. I grabbed the door jam with my right hand and swung around to slap my left hand on the light switch on the wall on the right. Somehow I missed. I had done it a thousand times, knew exactly where it was. Maybe I hadn’t reached far enough.
I knew the house well. I hadn’t needed to feel my way through the blackness. I knew exactly where I was going as I headed to the vestibule. I was extremely puzzled by my inability to tap the light switch, but decided it must be a couple of steps forward, which I then took.
Question: When a person steps forward in the dark, not realizing she is at the top of a stairway, how many stairs does she hit on the way down?
The Story of the Miracle
I had stepped forward fully expecting the floor to continue under my feet, thinking I was in the vestibule. Unfortunately, I was in the stairwell. The fourteen stone stairs made their way down against the right- hand plastered stone wall. On the left, there was no railing, but a series of vertical painted steel bars the size of American two-by-fours all the way to the ceiling. At the bottom of the stairwell was a patch of stone floor about 30” square and a facing plastered stone wall. With no forward thrust at all, I did a front flip through space and landed with my hips squarely in the angle where the floor met the basement wall, with my legs up the wall. Instantly, I breathed a sigh of relief. I was OK. Then my torso curled to the right and my head hit the floor hard. My scalp split to the right of center back. The hard hit interrupted my relief, and I became hyper-aware. I crumpled back over to the left and began to assess my situation, blood pouring from my scalp wound.
First, I realized how fortunate I was to be conscious. Had I been seriously injured or killed, my kids would have found me in the morning. Scalp wounds bleed precipitously. There would be blood everywhere. Pour kids would be emotionally scarred for life. I mumbled a prayer of thanks, used a piece of clothing to stanch the bleeding, and made my way upstairs to awaken our guests. They cleaned up the mess and called someone to take me to the hospital.
My resulting injuries were a scalp laceration needing six stitches, a concussion that took some months to recover from, hips out of alignment that required a few visits to a physical therapist, and a broken fingernail. My husband and son returned from Egypt the next day. I tried to re-enact the event and explain what had happened, my husband’s eyes as big as saucers. At the bottom of the stairs, I set myself down into my final landing position, legs up the wall, and realized my torso didn’t fit into the 30” square of floor. I should have landed with the back of my head squarely striking the bottom stair. I should have been killed. And that fall. At the beginning I should have reached back and tried to stop myself as I realized I was falling. But I never did realize I was falling. I should have scrambled and groveled all the way down, bouncing and slamming on every stair, but instead, I had flown. Angels had carried me and placed me, almost gently, in this life-saving position. My life had been in the balance. I had been miraculously saved.
At the Very Moment You Need God, He is There
I read a story once about a girl who was an atheist. She was hiking with friends and had become separated from them. Somehow, she fell into something like quicksand and was sinking fast. No one heard her screams for help. Realizing that death was imminent, she instinctively cried out to some higher power that could save her. She “heard” or felt a voice from on high that gave her exact instructions on how to extricate herself from her dire situation. She is no longer an atheist.
I realized that God knew I was in that stairwell in the dark. His angels were there to carry me through the air the very second I needed them. That means they know, He knows, where I am every minute of my life. He is there when I need Him, always.
He knows where you are, too. If you reach out to Him, He will reach out to you.