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SideLines: The power of prayer in a chilly situation

Published: Tuesday, April 15, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT

At the beginning of the year, I predicted I’d do something so stupid I’d have to write about it. I knew it was going to happen, I just didn’t know it would happen so soon.

This actually took place a few weeks ago, but I thought I’d save it for now, Holy Week. To paraphrase Paul Simon, this is a week of miracles and wonder.

One night after work, I went for a walk. It was one of the first warm nights when the snow was starting to melt. I was coming out of Walgreens, about 10 blocks from home. I decided to cut across a field rather than taking the long way around. Even though the field was full of snow, I had crossed it a couple of days earlier without any problem.

I was about halfway across the field when I realized this was going to be a lot more difficult than I figured. Apparently, it had snowed since my last trip. Instead of ankle-deep, the snow was halfway up my calves. Plus, it had frozen over, making it crunchy on top, but soft underneath. To make matters worse, I was wearing tennis shoes rather than winter boots.

Eventually, I lost my balance and fell, landing on my side. I wasn’t really hurt, so I tried to get up. To my surprise, I couldn’t. Whenever I pushed down on the snow, the surface gave way. At the same time, the edges of the snow were just firm enough that I was wedged in, preventing me from rolling onto my knees.

I sat there awkwardly, not quite sure what to do. Cold, wet and feeling a little helpless, the only thing I could think of was what the heck I was doing there. Why had I put myself in such a stupid, unnecessary position?

You know that little voice in the back of your head that reassures you everything is going to be all right? Mine kept telling me it honestly didn’t know what was going to happen.

I was alone in the dark in the middle of an empty field. Even if someone else was stupid enough to be out, no one could see me. I didn’t have my cell phone with me, my tennis shoes kept sticking in the snow, and this is pretty much how a friend of mine died about three years ago.

You hear of freak accidents all the time. As stupid as they may sound, if something happens to you, it happens.

I said a quick, but very sincere, prayer. It wasn’t one of those dramatic deals where I promised God if he got me out of this, I’d spend the rest of my life helping lepers or something. Those are kind of pointless. I’m pretty sure God knows how likely you are to keep your part of the bargain. I just made a simple, straightforward plea.

And just like that, everything changed. My confidence came back and I suddenly knew what to do. After a few aborted attempts, I managed to get up and slowly, carefully trudge the rest of the way to the street.

A lot of people won’t believe prayer had anything to do with this. They’ll say that common sense or whatever took over, and that’s fine. They can think what they want. They weren’t there. Reading this now, when robins are singing and plants are starting to emerge, it may not seem like a big deal, but it was at the time, at least to me.

Prayer is one of those personal things most people don’t like to talk about, like politics, sex, how much money you make, and how much you weigh. Remember the flap when Richard Nixon asked Henry Kissinger to pray with him in the final days of Watergate? I don’t know why prayer makes people uncomfortable. Maybe admitting there’s a higher power makes them feel vulnerable and not in control, but that’s their business.

As far as I’m concerned, anyone can believe whatever they want. I believe in the power of prayer, and I believe that prayer helped me out of what was becoming a bad situation. Maybe nothing bad would have happened. Fortunately, I didn’t have to find out. The fact is I pray for a lot of things, and I’m not afraid to admit it.

More than anything else, I’m going to pray that I never put myself in another position where I’ll need to pray for help.

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