A memory comes to me from a time that literally forced me into stillness ~ into a moment of deep surrender.
I was nineteen years old and lived at the end of a dead-end street. The day was already heading into darkness as I attempted to sprint down the cement steps in front of my duplex and get to my gas station job at the edge of town on time. I didn’t notice the black ice at the top of the six stairs that led to the sidewalk. My feet flew out from under me and I landed hard on my tailbone and ended up flat on my back at the bottom of the stairs. For several minutes I struggled to get up as shooting pain ran up my spine and down my legs. Finally I just lay there looking into the night sky as gentle snowflakes fell on my face.
I didn’t cry; I surrendered. I had recently broken up with my boyfriend, was pretty much estranged from my family of origin, could barely pay my rent as minimum wage was $1.95 per hour, and didn’t know where the money would come for my next semester of school. I claimed to be agnostic at the time but it didn’t stop me from talking to God. My thoughts went something like this: I give up. I tried really hard to survive this world ~ thought maybe I could even be a nurse, but it’s too hard. If you want to take me out of here, I’m all for it. If you want me to be here then I’m going to need some help. So I just lay there in silence. My roommate was gone for the night and no one would come looking for me. No cars would come this far down my street without a purpose and even if they did, the snow banks were high enough that they wouldn’t be able to see me lying there anyway.
I grew colder and yet I was very calm as if waiting for angels to swoop down to take me somewhere else. In the stillness I did feel a very loving presence; someone was with me ~ I could feel it and it even felt like love.
Then a voice, “Penny, are you alright?”
The girl who lived in the lower part of the duplex was standing at the top of the stairs with a nervous look on her face. “I heard a scream and was too scared to come out here. But I heard you leave and then didn’t see you so I wondered if you were okay.”
Now I did have tears spring to my eyes. Jane was someone who I thought hated me. Sometimes we would engage in music wars where each of us took a shot at playing our music loud enough to drown out each other’s selection. We were rude to each other yet here she was over-coming her fear to try and help me.
“I can’t get up.”
Jane came swooping down the stairs as I warned her that there was ice everywhere. It didn’t matter to her ~ she just picked me up and carried me into the house. Jane was a strong female and I only weighed about two pounds back then, but there was no way she could carry me up the whole flight of steps to my upper apartment. She stood me up in the hallway, but I couldn’t lift my legs to walk. We needed more help.
And so ensued an onslaught of what I term forced surrender. I was going to have to swallow my pride and ask people to help me. First, I needed to thank Jane for saving my life. From that point on I vowed to treat her with kindness in any way possible no matter what ~ a lesson well learned that I still carry with me today. Then I had to call someone who had a vehicle and I knew that no matter how messed-up things had gotten between us, my boyfriend would be the one who would care enough to help in any way possible. Turns out I married that guy!
At the hospital I started to panic. Anyone who came to talk to me was greeted with a mantra that went like this: “I have no insurance, I have no money, I don’t know how you’re going to get paid if you treat me.” Everyone nodded and kept going about the business of trying to help me. I was directed to a room where I was told the doctor would be in shortly and I should change into the hospital gown. Well I was able to get my jeans down around my ankles but could not step out of them. Suddenly the doctor walked in while I was standing there in my firecracker underwear and I completely lost it. He was a large man of Indian origin with a fierce look on his face. I burst into hysterics as I began my “I have no insurance rant.”
He bent down and very gently pulled up my jeans. “We can do x-rays without the gown on,” he softly assured me, and then asked what happened. We talked and he showed a real interest in my life. When I told him I hoped to be a nurse someday, he smiled and said that I did not need to worry about paying for anything, as he was sure I would be a great nurse and pass on the care I received to others. This was the first time I was introduced to the pay it forward concept of life ~ another lesson learned that I cherish to this day. That doctor was true to his word ~ I never did receive any bills in the mail. I had fractured my coccyx in three places but the good news was that there was no surgery to be done for that type of injury. It healed well on its own, though it was a slow process.
There was only one more obstacle to hurtle. I wasn’t able to work for a bit so I needed to contact my parents to ask for money. My mom listened to the story and a check showed up in the mail in the exact amount needed to cover my rent. Then the government helped out and a loan to cover next year’s tuition presented itself. Fortunate events kept flowing my way. At school, as I slowly shuffled into classes and stood in the back of the room trying to catch up, other students noticed and offered me their notes.
At a very young age I learned a very important concept. When we surrender our lives to our Creator and ask for help, we set in motion the synchronicity of blessings that are available to come about. Even if a circumstance seems like a tragedy, it may lead to learning profound lessons or point the way to a path in life that is deeply meaningful to us. We may not know all the ramifications of events at the time, but we can surrender, and then trust that everything happening may be for our highest good.
Pen Augustin is author of Waves of Light and The Priestess Tale series. She is also founder of Lady of the Lake Holistic Health. Pen loves to give messages about how we can heal ourselves and bring balance to our beloved planet. Living near the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan, she enjoys spending time in nature and communing with the local wildlife.