A miracle is described as an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause. A coincidence, on the other hand, is a striking occurrence of two or more events at one time apparently by mere chance.
How do you know if a miracle has occurred in your life, and it was not “one lucky day!” which favors the fortunate? Let me explain what happened in early April 2009, and perhaps you will understand why I am convinced that a miracle occurred in the ‘wink of an eye.’
I was driving on a highway in the Dominican Republic at around nine in the evening. My boss, his business partner and I were going from the city of Santiago to Puerto Plata. When it is not raining, I can make the drive in an hour and a half at most a course in miracles. On this particular night there was a constant drizzle, and the windshield wipers on our rental car were worn-out and ineffective.
The most exciting part of traveling to the Dominican Republic is the people, and the weather is fabulous-when it is not raining, that is! There is a constant breeze from the ocean which permeates the entire island with the fragrance of exotic plants, ripe fruits, and flowers in full bloom a course in miracles free. The people are friendly and very cooperative.
We had spent the entire day in Santo Domingo, and we were on our way home. I stopped in Santiago for gas and coffee. I was ready for the next leg of driving, and night had set in. When you are on the open highway, visibility is minimal. If your rental car has poor headlights and worn-out windshield wipers, like ours had, you can get into serious trouble. Since the start of the long drive from Santo Domingo earlier in the evening, I also had to keep tight control of the car for it had a tendency to veer to the left-meaning, the car was also out of alignment to add to my misery.
The main highways in the Dominican Republic are quite ample, and with at least two lanes one way, and two going the other way with plenty of mid-center guard protection. One great asset to throw-in is the wide shoulders on both sides of the road for emergencies. However, here is the biggest and most dangerous factor to consider when driving in the Dominican Republic: many cars and motorcycles drive at night with minimal or no lights at all. These vehicles are so old and worn-out that they simply have no lights left to turn on. But there they are going at fifteen to twenty miles an hour and on the fast lane, nonetheless, and at all hours of the day and night. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the driver with a good vehicle and a decent set of headlights to avoid crashing into them, or very likely get everyone hurt in the process.
When I go to the Dominican Republic, I help a friend of mine with the repairs of his cargo ship which has been there since last October. I drive very carefully considering all the obstacles that may come up on you suddenly, e.g., stray animals, people crossing the highway, slow cars and motorcycles, bicycles, huge potholes, and more. On this particular evening, I was tired and exhausted from driving all over Santo Domingo looking for repair parts for the ship, and the countless conversations I had to translate from Spanish to English, and back to Spanish for my friend and his business partner who are owners of the cargo ship.
What happened this night, I will never forget! Driving on a four-lane portion of highway between Santiago and Puerto Plata, and only a few miles out of the city, I kept my lights high for better visibility. Whenever a car came on the opposite lanes, I would drop the lights. After a few minutes of raising and dropping the lights I just left the lights in the lower position. I maintained the lights that way for about ten minutes, and I was driving on what we call ‘the fast lane’- that’s the lane closest to the median. At least in the U.S. we call it that, but in the Dominican Republic it is the lane that anyone can use, and at any speed they wish to go day and night. Apparently, there is a distinction between fast and slow lanes there, but if there is, probably no one really cares, as was the case this evening.
I remember now that I had fallen into a ‘minor trance’ watching the highway in front of me. All that I could I could see with my glasses on and the lights on low was fifty feet of highway, at most. By now the rain was coming down harder, and my eyes were only seeing ‘one-empty-dark-wet-night’ up ahead. I was driving at a speed of fifty to fifty-five miles per hour, when suddenly I got an ‘urgent impulse’ to raise the headlights that instant.
When I flicked the light lever on-high, I could not believe my eyes at what came into my line of vision! On the edge of my car headlights’ beam, and barely visible was a slow-moving motorcycle with two people riding in the middle of my lane. The motorcycle’s tail light was off, or it had no lights to turn on. To top it off, both riders had dark clothing on. They became visible only by the illumination of the headlights. The motorcycle driver and his passenger should have been riding on the left or right shoulders of the road for their own safety. I suppose they were using the lights from the incoming cars to guide them on the highway, as they thrust forward in the rain. They had no clue of the high-speed vehicle coming towards them on a collision course, and seconds away from a ‘fatal accident.’
The rider and his passenger were going at around fifteen miles an hour, and I was flying in my little economy car at fifty-five. The gap between my car and the motorcycle was closing terribly fast, and all that I saw was pending disaster coming upon all of us and real soon! When my two passengers witnessed the situation that I was in, they screamed at the ‘top of their lungs’ right into my ear, but I kept my control. I had two choices to make in three seconds or less, and with absolutely no margin for error: one, drive the car to the left and get on the muddy shoulder and try my best to go around the motorcyclist and his passenger without losing control of the car; two, swing over to the right lane and stay on the wet pavement and avoid hitting them with my car. Trying to stop the car by putting on my brakes was definitely not an option. I simply had no time to think (or breathe for that matter), but to take the best course of evasive action and save lives-ours included.
As tired as I was, my driving instincts took over, and I chose to go to the right. I am glad to say that I missed the motorcyclist and his rider by a mere three feet, if that. As I flew by them, I never stopped the car and neither did I reduce my speed. When I looked in my rear-view mirror, all that I saw was darkness. The motorcyclist did not even have his front lights working either. I just kept-on driving towards my destination with life-the happier for being able to see another day.
Was it a miracle that happened that evening on the highway in the Dominican Republic, or just one incredible coincidence? Both of my passengers commented afterwards that I would have raised the headlights sooner or later, since I had been doing it all along on the highway. I know deep inside of me that ‘later’ in this case could have been fatal for everyone. Thinking about the incident now, I might have panicked at the sight of the pending accident, or the screaming inside the car, and make the wrong decision. I did not, and I made the right decision!
What my friends said may be true, I will concede. Perhaps it was “my lucky night,” but to see your life and that of others be saved by a car maneuver that required a plan of action; decide on the safest option; and to execute your choice on a dark and rainy night all in the span of ‘three seconds max’ and at the speed that we were going, is nothing less than a miracle-in my judgment anyway-and for that I am grateful.
Is a miracle granted, or is it received only by request to the Almighty? I never had a chance to pray, nor ask for help that night. The entire episode was too fast for me to think of anything else, other than to avoid crashing into two, not too smart, but still innocent people, nevertheless. My understanding of miracles is that God may perform a miracle at His will, and in many cases, people are given the power to perform miracles. In our case, I know that a miracle was performed to spare our lives (whether we deserved it or not!), without any of us having had to request it. My two passengers are confirmed Atheist and do not believe in God, and even less in miracles; and the motorcyclist and his passenger had absolutely no idea how close they came to losing their lives that fateful night.