“The Way is never easy, but it is the path all good men must take.”

– from “The Robe”

Does DNA equal destiny? Consider a while back the newspaper carried a story about a Canadian goose with a broken wing that had walked many miles along a section of Interstate in Wisconsin. It should come as no surprise the goose was walking south – not back north, not to the east nor to the west. Why? Because it was autumn and the God who created the complex codes of DNA said, “Winter is coming … head south.”

Of course, nature has its pantheon of never-ending miracles. Dolphins swim by sonar and bats fly by radar. The ant can carry several times its body weight. Pound for pound, the spider’s web is stronger than steel. A flea, on a scale to a human, could jump over the 555-foot high Washington Monument. Wasps set their nests with laser-like precision. Cats purr to heal their internal organs.

Yet for us humans, finding orientation for our lives is far more elusive, if not esoteric. Yes, we have our intellect, our education as well as the basic instincts of “Primal Man.” Yet the existence of free will and the desires of our flesh often take us down paths we know we should have avoided. No matter how many wrong turns we may take, however, somehow God and His angels conspire to show us who we really are and where we’re supposed to be.

Consider the following tale.

Sunday, Oct. 23, 2005, was the first truly cold day of that fall season. The wind had shifted, and there was a distinct, crisp chill in the air. This writer was sitting in the McDonald’s at the corner of New Halls Ferry and Lindbergh in Florissant, Mo. I was drinking a Coca-Cola and reading a copy of USA Today.

When I got up to refill my drink, I saw a beautiful blonde woman standing right in front of me at the soda fountain. She was wearing a black vest and jeans and carried the aura of a person so perfect that she didn’t seem human. The woman was holding an adorable, tiny baby in a portable bassinet. She also had a teddy bear in her arms, as well as another child at her side, a girl, who looked to be about 3 years old.

The woman turned around, looked directly at me and smiled. Then she just handed me the bassinet. I stood there holding her beautiful baby, who was fast asleep in her Hello Kitty outfit. After about 30 seconds or so, the woman took the baby back and then left.

She put the child and the baby in a brand new pickup truck with Alabama plates. As she drove off, I watched her through the glass doors. She was looking back at me as though to say “Come outside.”

I would have thought nothing of it (beyond wondering who hands a total stranger her sleeping baby) except for the almost surreal event that happened next. And if it weren’t for the aforementioned woman, I would have missed it.

I walked outside into the cold. And then suddenly, in the blink of an eye, I found myself running full speed across the parking lot. A large SUV had just turned over in a freak accident in the No Man’s Land between the local Kmart and the McDonalds. It had been clipped from the side by a green Ford Taurus at just the right speed and angle to make it flip over on its side. How often do you see something like that? It was like finding a three-legged ballerina, Tyson losing a fight (circa 1990), dancing at Baylor (circa 1890) or watching pigs fly (circa whenever).

I remember that I was wearing a desert camouflage jacket, light blue jeans and Caterpillar work boots. (It was a good thing I wasn’t wearing a tuxedo as not everyone can be James Bond in a pinch.) I immediately climbed on top of the rolled over car and opened the passenger-side door – which had now become the de facto roof.

Inside I found the person I would come to know as Rita Johnson. She was a decent, ordinary African-American woman who also called St. Louis home. Needless to say, Rita was both shaken and stirred. Shocked yet uninjured.

“Ma’am are you OK?” I instinctively inquired. Rita said nothing, yet nodded her head up and down slightly.

The engine of the SUV was still running and there was smoke billowing through the vehicle. I tried to climb down into the SUV and get to the keys so as to turn off the engine, but I fell and got a long, deep gash down my right thigh, ripping my jeans in the process.

In the next few moments, someone entered the SUV through the back window, crawled in and turned off the engine. I then found myself being pulled upward and out of the SUV the same way I had entered only moments before. I’m about 6 feet 4 inches tall and 222 pounds, yet some unseen force was lifting me out by my right arm with considerable ease.

That force was “Jerry,” a super strong bodybuilder with biceps the size of my thighs. I had been pulled out by one of only a handful of men in St. Louis who could have provided such strength and resistance to gravity.

“I’ve never seen a car flip like that,” Jerry kept saying said, again and again. It was like a wrestler using the body weight of his opponent against him. A one in a million shot.

I sometimes wonder why I was there at McDonald’s on that special day. I had never been on that side of St. Louis on any given Sunday. Was it to meet that beautiful woman and her baby? Were they angels? Was it to help Rita Johnson? What I do know is that when I climbed into the SUV, I felt both alive and normal for the first time in a very long while.

Over the past two years, I’ve come to believe I was in Florissant for a fire drill of sorts to test the kind of person I am. After all, there is no such thing as luck. There are no coincidences. And as Robbie Williams sings in “Little Wonders,” “Our lives are made in these small hours.”

As for destiny, DNA and human nature, all things can still be broken down into energy and spirit. Our thoughts and habits influence all of our actions. Our actions in turn lead us to our destiny. There’s simply no escaping the moral choices that will determine our final spiritual destination.

After all, even with a broken wing the Canadian goose still knows where it’s destined to fly – or walk – if need be.

How much more valuable are you?

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