On Dec. 5, Tracy George and her daughter, Michayla, really were in a spin.
An accident — which law enforcement officials say most people don’t walk away from — had sent their SUV whirling.
Yet amid it all, the Fremonters had a sense of peace.
And then, there was the light.
I was talking with Tracy about the accident last week and I was reminded of light associated with the Christmas story. I don’t want to sound corny, but the thoughts really are heartwarming.
The day of the accident, Tracy was taking 15-year-old Michayla to volleyball practice in Elkhorn. It was about 6 p.m.
They were southbound on 204th Street, just south of Dodge, when they came to the first intersection at Rawhide Road.
That’s when, Tracy said, a man in a northbound vehicle turned west onto Rawhide and T-boned them — hitting their SUV.
“It happened so fast that I literally had no time for reaction,” Tracy recalled. “I just remember a white blur out of my left side and that noise of the sound of impact.”
Tracy’s vehicle started spinning. The airbags deployed.
“And we were facing the wrong direction into oncoming traffic when it finally came to a halt,” Tracy said.
Smoke, fumes and fluid were coming out of the vehicle.
“I didn’t know really what happened,” Tracy said. “I knew we’d been hit, but I think I was in shock and I remember looking at Michayla. It felt like it was in slow motion as it was happening.”
A man in a vehicle behind the two women stopped alongside the road to see if they were OK.
Not knowing if the vehicle might start on fire, Tracy quickly got Michayla out of it and to the side of the road.
A sheriff, who’d been behind Tracy at the intersection and saw the accident, activated his lights. Traffic was backed up. The man in the vehicle that struck the Georges’ SUV ran up to see if they were all right.
Police arrived on the scene. Michayla had lacerations on her leg and burns from the airbag, along with swelling and bruising.
Tracy’s car was totaled.
A friend took Tracy and Michayla to the emergency department at Methodist Fremont Health before they were taken home.
Details from the accident surfaced in Tracy’s mind.
“Things started coming back to me, little by little,” Tracy said. “I asked Michayla if she noticed anything different about the situation or anything that really stood out to her.”
Tracy had said nothing about seeing a white light.
But Michayla had seen it, too.
“We realized we’d felt a sense of peace,” she said. “There was a very bright white light that I can’t even explain in the car as we were turning in circles that was very angelic and calming — that we both agree was our guardian angel — because multiple police officers told us they don’t normally see people walking out of situations like that.”
As I think about Tracy’s story, I see a parallel between it and something that happened more than 2,000 years ago.
It occurs not at an intersection, but in a field where shepherds are watching their flocks.
This night, an angel of the Lord appears to them and the glory of the Lord shines around them.
Sounds like a big light to me.
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And to the shepherds, it must have been terrifying, because the angel tells them not to be afraid.
Why be brave?
Because the angel has great, joyful news: A Savior has been born in Bethlehem and they’ll find him wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.
Suddenly, a multitude of heavenly hosts are with the angel praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
The Bible also tells of three Wise Men (sometimes called “kings”) coming to Jerusalem after following a star — a light in the heavens that would bring them to little Jesus.
Later, Jesus will say: “I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12).
Our Lord brings — not only physical — but spiritual light.
Even before Jesus was born, Zechariah — whose wife was a cousin to Christ’s mother — prophesies.
He says because of God’s tender mercy, he will “give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:78-79)
So a question arises:
“What is the darkness in which you sit?”
Is it the darkness of fear, depression, anxiety and pain?
If so, can you call out to the God who created the universe and said — “Let there be light”?
Can you ask God to help you move forward in the light he provides through his word and the Holy Spirit?
And can you ask him to help you to trust him, even when things look darker than lighter — and to guide and give you peace?
As she looks back, Tracy recalls the sense of helplessness and yet the reassuring sense of peace during the accident.
“It was like arms around you inside of this chaos of your car going in circles,” she said. “Even though, outside of that bubble there’s all this madness going on you just feel safe and secure, because you almost feel like there’s arms around you.”
Tracy isn’t the first person this year who’s told me about a feeling of arms or hands encircling someone during a chaotic time.
Just last month, Vietnam veteran Arthur Alston told me how — on Easter Sunday in 1968 — he thought he was going to be shot and killed during a battle.
Then an artillery piece landed in front of him, sending him back about 50 feet.
He said it felt like a cushion of air had picked him up.
“It felt like a cushion of hands that grabbed me and took me out of the area,” Arthur said. “When it felt like God’s hands grabbed me and pulled me off the hill (during the explosion), it was the softest thing you can imagine.”
We don’t have to be in a car accident or a war to know that God can provide us with comfort and protect us in our darkest times.
He can give us the light and peace we need — right when we need it.
Before he went to the cross, Jesus told his disciples: “Peace I leave with you; my own peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)
I believe God has his arms around us — whether or not we can feel it.
And we don’t have to be a shepherd or a king to know that God’s love can penetrate any type of darkness and bring us into his marvelous, peace-giving light.