I know. That really sounds crazy, doesn’t it?
A fairly typical Saturday morning. Blueberry pancakes for breakfast. It was Autumn, so these blueberries came from our stash of frozen “fresh” from the outside garage freezer. This is a weekly ritual, you might say.
Tom picked me up around 8:10, as usual, so we could make it out to the “wood lot” by 8:30 to meet Jack.
Windy had a meeting at the church at 9:00 as the women’s organization of which she is a member was hosting a crowd from around the state for the day. It was planned as a fun but intense day for her.
Out at the wood lot, we were splitting some hardwoods for our ‘Fangano Firewood, uh, thing. Not sure what to call it, really. People give us these hardwood trees that we go and cut up, haul back to our lot, and split into firewood pieces ready for seasoning and then burning. We split and stack the wood back at our place so it can season there. Usually by word of mouth, folks hear about us and call either Tom or me and ask for a load of firewood. We take them a load of wood in a pickup truck and stack it for them. Then we direct them to our web site that tells them about Gethsemane Garden Christian Center, an orphanage we support in Kenya. We ask them to click the “DONATE” button on the site, and send whatever they think the firewood is worth to the orphanage. It’s between them and the Lord from there.
This particular Saturday morning I was operating the hydraulic splitter that is powered by a Briggs & Stratton engine. It basically makes the same noise as a lawn mower. The action of the splitter squeezes a log under about 30 tons of torque onto a steel triangular-shaped blade, and that splits the log. Jack was using a splitting maul to split some logs, with his back to me, and Tom was stacking some wood, also with his back to me.
It’s really something when guys can be out in the woods doing things that are mostly mindless. It’s such good thinking time. To me, it’s when what is in me tends to run through me, and turn around and run back through me the other direction, and then reverse fields again. And my thoughts might run from college years when I was a young believer and football season, particularly in the autumn months, all the way to scout trips with my boys just a few years back. Windy and I didn’t miss many Autumns at Windy Gap, Young Life’s camping property near Asheville, and I think about that a lot.
So, being out there, but alone with one’s thoughts, is a gift.
All that was going on that Saturday morning, as it had many, many Saturdays before.
I operated the lever on the splitter, as usual. Normally, the action was immediate: operate the lever, the log splits. BAM!
This time, however, I had placed the sixty-ish pound log on the splitter, operated the lever, and I guess I could have counted, one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand.
The log EXPLODED off the splitter, without splitting. So, sixty pounds under thirty tons of torque, this log hits me in the head.
First of all, I never saw it coming, of course. Second, I’ve never taken a lick that hard in my LIFE!
I began to understand that one’s brain can process many thoughts simultaneously. Here are those thoughts I think I was processing at the time. I’m actually not joking about any of these things now:
1) This thing has killed me. I am dead. Not “he died peacefully at home, surrounded by his family.” Just here in the woods with Jack and Tom.
2) Oh no! Windy and the boys. And their wives.
3) But, Lord, You are here. I am with you and it is so beautiful. I am thankful and feel so loved and you are so wonderful. If I am with you, then Windy and the boys and everyone will be ok.
I really was enjoying being dead. Does that sound crazy? Oh well. Have you met me?
Next thing I know, I’m lying on the ground. I pulled my red bandana from my hip pocket and held it to a place just above my left eye; there was lots of blood. I propped up on my left elbow and tried to raise my voice above the noise of the splitter to get Tom’s attention. I finally did and said, “I think I’m gonna need your help.” I wasn’t anxious. I was still having the most fun with the Lord! I was quite at peace.
Tom was not. Now, he’s a doctor, so he did all the doctor stuff, and he called the ER where he knows everybody and told them he was bringing me in. He had a roll of paper towels and brought those from the truck and that showed me how much blood was coming out of my head. Lots!
At the ER, I told Tom I should probably get rid of those paper towels so we wouldn’t scare children or anyone, but he said, “No, make sure they see blood, it’ll get you in faster!” (There may be a metaphor there?)
But faster wasn’t a problem. I think they had a team of eight folks there waiting for us. They were all anxious, or at least they were buzzing around as if they were. I was trying to take it all in, and asking, “Now, how are you today? Where are you from? Who are your people? I’m gonna pray for you!” I wanted, so much, for those folks to feel as loved as I felt. Crazy, right? Then, everybody just sort of backed out of the room except for the nice nurse who brought some of those warm blankets, and I sat on the side of the bed (didn’t want me to lie down) just covered in those warm blankets having the best time with the Lord for quite a long time. It was great. Then they came and did a few more things, and at that point Tom’s wife had somehow reached Windy and she walked into the room. It was great and perfect.
After it was all said and done, with all the scans and x-rays, the results were that there were no broken bones and not even a concussion. There was a really sweet cut above my eye, probably where the log jammed my glasses into the skin there. We found the glasses out there the next day.
We have never found that log. My theory is that you can see that sucker orbiting the Earth just above Whispering Pines, NC, on a crisp Autumn night. Either that or something else.
Tom tells me that the children of the orphanage at Gethsemane Garden pray for us because they know we support them in our small way. O Lord, thank you for using their prayers in our lives. They are your true Saints.