In one of our favorite old black and white movies, Cary Grant needs to explain an extremely unusual circumstance. As he prepares for his uncomfortable conversation, he practices over and over again,”Truth is stranger than fiction,” while trying out different inflections. His conversation with himself comes to mind often, because it describes my life so well, as I’m sure it describes the lives of many of you. Sometimes my life is so surprising, I hesitate to tell you about it. I’m afraid you’ll think I’m making it up, but I’m not!
We began our drive to the Pennsylvania homeschool convention a couple of days early, so that we could do some fun things with John, Audra, and Henry. Our first planned activity was supper with Dustin, a dear family friend who now lives in Virginia. He is John’s age and the boys spent lots of time together when Dustin’s family and our family were part of the same church in Urbana, Illinois. We visited his parents in Kansas last summer, but none of us had seen Dustin since his wedding about ten years ago. Now he and Miranda have two precious children of their own. We had a great reunion.
Shortly after our visit, Dustin’s mom Jo gave us a call, telling us that Dustin had called her saying that he enjoyed the visit. She also shared some news from Urbana, which I will share with you shortly.
By Tuesday morning, Ray had just about had it with a non-emergency, nuisance kind of medical issue which sent us first to a walk-in clinic at about 8:15 a.m. and then to an emergency room. The outcome was good and we were on our way again by about 4:00 p.m. That wasn’t exactly the way we had planned to spend those eight hours, but all’s well that ends well, right?
We got to our hotel near Harrisburg while it was still daylight and spent a nice evening. That was when we had our first little falling incident. I gently set my toiletries bag on the luggage rack–you know, the folding kind made of wood or metal with straps to hold your suitcase. When I set the bag down, it fell. I thought I was just a klutz, but when I picked up my bag, I saw that a strap on the luggage rack had come undone. No big deal, but let’s just call that fall number two.
Yesterday morning Ray and I got up early and got ready for our fun outing to Chocolate Town (Hershey) and to Lancaster County.
From the bathroom, I heard a loud crash. I called out to Ray to see if he was okay. He was fine, but the large, heavy, wooden-framed mirror hanging on the wall about mid-way between us had suddenly fallen off the wall to the floor. Neither of us had been anywhere near it. My glasses and my laptop, sitting below the mirror, were fine; and the mirror didn’t even break. Let’s call that fall number three.
Now, for that phone call from Dustin’s mother Jo on Monday night: she told us about fall number one. Falls number two and three were minor nuisances. Fall number one was quite different.
Have you heard the news about the eight girls who fell while hanging from their hair as a human chandelier in a performance of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus in Providence, Rhode Island, this past Sunday morning? On Tuesday, while Ray and I were waiting at the emergency room, I called Bethany to tell her the news Jo told Monday night. After Bethany heard it, she told me: “If you had told me to guess what happened, I never would have guessed that!”
One of those girls who fell, the one who got out of the hospital first and who told her story on ABC News yesterday, was Samantha Pitard. Samantha was another of the little children growing up in the congregation where Ray preached when we lived in Illinois years ago. I told you, “Truth is stranger than fiction.”
According to Samantha’s interview yesterday, all of the girls who fell from that human chandelier on Sunday are expected to recover. We hadn’t talked to Samantha’s parents in many years. This week her father and I exchanged emails. Not surprisingly, he wrote from Providence. He told us how Samantha was doing and said, “Everybody involved is convinced that God was with the girls in this accident.”
Are not five sparrows sold for two cents?
Yet not one of them is forgotten before God.
Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.