By Joyce and Barry Vissell
Barry: If we only knew how many times we are rescued by divine intervention, we would completely trust this higher power. There would then be nothing to worry about – ever! Joyce and I had yet another powerful reminder of this truth – and divine miracle – last week.
In honor of both of us turning 70 in May (there’s no more denying it – we are both seniors!), we rented our favorite house in Hana, Maui, Hawaii, for eight days, and had a wonderful vacation with our three grown children, one of our children’s significant other, and our five-year-old grandson. Six weeks’ post-op from a partial knee replacement, it was a real joy for me to actually hike without pain for the first time in several years.
On the way back to the airport from remote Hana, we had a flat tire. No problem! Even at 70, I was confident that I could change a tire in less than 10 minutes. We had left an extra hour early just in case. I opened the trunk of the rental car, emptied out all our luggage, and lifted up the flap to expose the spare tire. There was no spare tire! Instead, there was a small 12-volt air pump, and a “flat-fixer” that somehow attached to it. Our son, John-Nuri, who was in our car, figured out how to attach the “flat-fixer.” I plugged in the pump and watched, satisfied, as the tire started to inflate.
Turning off and removing the pump, we heard the loud hiss, and realized the flat was not fixed. “Okay, everyone back in the car,” I ordered. “Let’s see how far we can travel with the leak.”
We were maybe 45 minutes from the airport. I started driving. Five minutes later, the tire pressure was obviously too low to continue driving. I pulled over, and we repeated the process, hoping the “flat-fixer” might work after a second try.
No luck! I got another five minutes closer to the airport. (Note to self: never, ever, rent a car without a spare tire!)
Now we recognized we were in trouble. John-Nuri’s flight was 20 minutes earlier than ours, so we needed to reach our daughters, Rami and Mira, who were ahead of us somewhere. We finally did, and they doubled back to meet us. I had the brilliant thought to check if their car had a spare tire. It did! However, the tire iron did not fit our tire’s nuts! No luck there!
John-Nuri squeezed into their car with his luggage, and off they went. Our children felt terrible leaving us on the side of the road. Joyce and I understood the reality that we would very likely miss our flight home. First, we called the rental car company to see if they could help. All they could do was refer us to a taxi company, who we immediately called. They said they could come get us in three hours. Great! We were told that we could leave the rental car on the side of the road, and they would come and get it in a matter of hours.
Joyce: My main discipline right now is to try to see everything as an opportunity to trust more fully in God. When the tire went flat, I was sure that somehow the angels would come down and magically fix the tire, or at the very least, allow us to get to the airport. While Barry and our son were using the pump, I put my hands on the tire and prayed for a miracle. I visualized the tire surrounded in light. Then it became apparent that this car was not going to get us to the airport.
Barry and I pulled all of our luggage out of the car, and stood on the side of the road. We were both praying for help, and we must have looked rather pathetic, two senior citizens standing by their luggage, waving their hands and begging for help on the side of a very remote and winding road. Twenty minutes went by, and not one vehicle stopped. It was now 12:10, and our flight was at 1:20. We were still at least 35 minutes from the airport, and knew that the airlines had a strict policy. We would not be able to check in less than 40 minutes before our flight. We got a very sinking feeling inside that the plane with our family would leave without us, and we would have to wait until the next day, with no place to stay, and no car to drive.
An old white van pulled up with two Hawaiian men. It was a son, perhaps in his 40s, and his elderly father. They listened to our sad story, and agreed to take us to the airport. The son told us he doubted we would make it in time for the flight, but the father said, “Let’s give it a try,” and off we went.
We told them how grateful we were, and the son said, “I’ve learned that all of life is meant to be lived in gratitude. Gratitude is the key to a good life.” When asked if we could pay them, the father said that the best payment would be to “pay it forward,” and help someone else.
The town of Paia, which is normally very congested with traffic, was totally clear, and we sailed right through what can take an extra half hour. The son knew of a shortcut that was just completed. He miraculously got us to the airport one minute before the 40-minute deadline. The Hawaiians told us to run, and we took off. The gate agents took our bags, and again told us to hurry as fast as we could.
We were the last people on the plane, sweating and out of breath, but we made it. Our children were thrilled and surprised! As I sat in my seat and closed my eyes, I distinctly heard my inner voice quietly say, “Trust Me, I have your back!” This was yet another opportunity to trust.
Joyce & Barry Vissell, a nurse/therapist and psychiatrist couple since 1964, are counselors near Santa Cruz, CA, who are widely regarded as among the world's top experts on conscious relationship and personal growth. They are the authors of The Shared Heart, Models of Love, Risk to Be Healed, The Heart’s Wisdom, Meant to Be, and A Mother’s Final Gift. Call 831-684-2299, or write to the Shared Heart Foundation, P.O. Box 2140, Aptos, CA 95001, for further information on counseling sessions by phone or in person, their books, recordings, or their schedule of talks and workshops. Visit their website at SharedHeart.org for their free monthly e-heartletter, their updated schedule, and inspiring past articles on many topics about relationship and living from the heart.