It was a raw January day as the bus left Benton, Wisconsin, but Dick Wilson* barely noticed. Dick had just attended his mother’s funeral.
Although she’d had severe diabetes for many years and it was a relief to see her suffering end, his heart was still heavy.
When the summons had come, Dick planned to drive to Wisconsin from his home in Sedona, Arizona. But the weather in that mountainous area was treacherous, and even worse conditions had been predicted. Instead, his wife, Nancy,* had driven him to the Phoenix airport where he boarded a plane.
Now he was on his way back to Nancy and the six of their ten children who still lived with them. It would have been more convenient to fly back, but the bus fare would be easier on the family budget.
Miles rolled by. Dick was cold and sorrowful, and the trip seemed endless. Finally, in the middle of the night, the bus pulled into the terminal in Tucumcari, New Mexico, for his last transfer. There was time for a quick snack, so Dick went into a nearby restaurant. Lost in thought, he was startled when a driver yelled from the door: “Phoenix bus is leaving, folks. Last call to board.”
Last call! Dick got up, grabbed his jacket, then reached inside his shirt pocket for his ticket. But his pocket was empty.
Quickly Dick checked the rest of his possessions. Yes, here was his wallet, his comb and coins.. But as he inspected the floor and even the chair he’d been sitting on, his pulse began to race. His ticket was gone.
What was he going to do? He had no cash for another ticket. Perhaps he had dropped it on the bus. Panic building, Dick ran to the terminal lot. People were boarding the Phoenix bus, but he dashed to the one he had just ridden. A man was sweeping it out.
“Have you found a ticket?” Dick asked the workman.
“Nope.” The workman paused and looked around at the little pile of cigarette butts and candy wrappers. “There’s nothing here but this junk.”
“Oh, God, please help me….” Dick stepped down from the bus, his head swimming. Now what? He set out down the street, away from the restaurant. If only he hadn’t been so careless, so absorbed in his own grief! How could he have done something so stupid?
The wind was blowing strongly, and as Dick trudged, head down, debris whirled past. Rubbish blew against him and, blindly, Dick hit out at it, grabbing one troublesome piece of paper to crumple it in frustration. He’d have to phone Nancy, have her wire some money out of their tight budget. And in the meantime the bus would leave. How long would he be stuck here?
Turning, Dick retraced his steps past the terminal and back to the restaurant. As he pushed the door open, he realized that his fist was still closed around that crushed piece of wastepaper. Absently, he glanced at it before tossing it aside.
It was his missing ticket.
Dick reached home safely, and has never forgotten the wonder of that answered prayer.
Joan Anderson Copyrighted by Joan Wester Anderson, used with permission. Originally appeared on the Where Angels Walk website.