Just once or twice I found myself doing something which, without any conscious action or thought on my part, has had a profound effect. That it has happens at all confirms my belief that, for just a minute, I have been the instrument of a higher power.
In 1980 I was in a training class at Ft. Benjamin Harrison near Indianapolis. There were about 40 of us in the class. One of my classmates was about to be a father and his wife was able to be with him, which was unusual. The child was due soon and as there was no family nearby, we decided to throw them a shower. The hat was passed and another woman and I were asked to go shopping. Off to the department store. After looking at outfits, silver-plated cups and spoons, and even totes and diaper bags, I spotted it – a beautiful blanket, hand-woven in Germany. Made of soft, fine lamb’s wool, it was a luxury that a young officer could not have afforded. I picked it up and without discussion carried it to the register. Within minutes we carried it away boxed and gift-wrapped.
A few days later, after training was over, we all gathered for the party. Those officers who had spouses brought them to join in this celebration for the new family. After the obligatory punch, cookies and congratulations we handed over the gift. The expectant mother pulled the bow, unwrapped the paper, opened the box – and immediately burst into deep, heart wrenching sobs. She collapsed in her chair and her husband, in tears, offered comfort. Everyone in the room sat or stood in their places in stunned silence. I was panicked. What had happened? – how could this beautiful thing cause such a reaction?
After a few minutes she calmed. Her husband shared this: The previous years they had been stationed in Germany. They had their first child there, a boy who died shortly after birth. He was buried there; far away in a tiny coffin, wrapped in a blanket. When she found out she was expecting she began wishing that she has saved that blanket for the new baby, so he or she would have something of their brother’s. This wish grew over the months and became something she talked about often and would cry over.
This was the blanket. Her tears of grief became tears of disbelief and then happiness. Months later I received word that their new baby was healthy and the story of the blanket was told to all their family and friends and was perceived to be something that both helped her grieve and also ready herself for their new child.
There is no reason, no ESP, no way I could have known to buy that blanket. My shopping companion could just have easily picked it up and said “this is it!”
Every morning I go outside say my prayers. One prayer is that Grandmother and Grandfather will guide my footsteps. I believe that sometimes they do.
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