In a nearby country town hardly big enough to elicit a dot on a Rand McNally map, an ominous man walked into the only bank within a ten mile radius. A hood over his head hid his identity, but the large gun in his hand was evidence of his ill intent. Like something from a B-movie, he shouted, “Everyone get down!” and pointedly swung his gun around the room. Fear coursing through their veins, the men and women unluckily fated to be customers doing their banking right at that very moment obediently hit the cold slabs of the bank’s tiled floor.
One banking client didn’t get down fast enough. He was an older man with slower joints and jilted movements. The hooded bandit had no compassion for the impaired gentleman’s unintentional lollygag, even while he, himself, was a diabetic, sixty-two and fading fast. He hit the frightened man hard with the gun; forcing him down in a swift movement that left a slow trickle of blood sliding down the side of the innocent bystander’s shocked face.
With a smirk penetrating the knit of his disguise, the bank robber screamed for the teller to get the money in the bag. He didn’t realize that the security button hidden underneath the counter had been pushed. The police were on their way. The teller hurriedly filled the money bag. Grabbing the filled bag from her shaking hands, the bungling burglar ran out the front door.
Outside, sitting in a stolen truck waiting for the gunman, was the gunman’s son. This wasn’t the first robbery they had done together. There had been a string of them consisting of anything from convenience stores to small banks from Missouri through Arkansas. The more they had gotten away with, the more they were fueled to try another. After five or six hits, this would be their last.
The small town’s police were joined by the state troopers. The stolen get-a-way truck was found abandoned where the thieves had left in another car to continue their escape. It only took two hours from the bank robbery to the apprehension of the bank robbers.
I listened to the story with somewhat distracted interest as it played out on the local news station. Then, I heard the name of the gunman and his son. I sat their in not-so-shocked disgust as I realized it was the husband and step-son to my estranged sister, whom I had not seen in over ten years. I knew things had gotten worse in her life after her marriage to this past incarcerated criminal, especially in the five years previous to this present news cast. After I had found out that she was close to not having food or electricity as demise of her near fatal choice in marital bliss, I had anonymously been sending her money for a couple of years.
I had only met her third husband once. It was one time too many. When I got home from meeting him I had thrown up. That’s how evil he had seemed to me, even fifteen years before this event.
I knew my detrimentally determined sister would be depending on her sons from her first marriage to come to her rescue. They had a great dad in her first husband (their father) and had grown to be great guys. However, with families of their own to support, they all were financially limping.
I hadn’t felt any close ties to my family in years, but also for years, when I knew one of them was in trouble, I would do whatever I could to help, most often without their knowledge of where the help was coming from. I was now more concerned about my nephew than my old-enough-to-know-better sister and made arrangements to give him immediate financial help, knowing his mother would run to him in a time of need. After all, he too, was an innocent bystander being hit by this crime.
It was two weeks before Christmas when all of this transpired. I had reservations and plans to spend that Christmas at one of my favorite places in America. It’s a wonderful place in southeast Missouri called Big Cedar Lodge. Since 1993 I had tried to stay there at least once a year, as it was always someplace I could go when things were chaotic and I needed a mini-vacation. Two days there seemed akin to a week’s vacation anywhere else. While there are several lodges and many cabins that comprise Big Cedar Lodge, they have kept everything in keeping with nature. No matter how crowded it is there, one always feels a sense of peace and privacy. I love it there. No offense, Mr. Disney, but it’s my “happiest place on Earth”.
Even with its three hotel sized lodges, the several hundred cabins, and the other accommodations, Big Cedar Lodge is extremely booked all year, especially on holidays. I had pre-booked and pre-paid for my stay over six months before Christmas. That winter, I had really been looking forward to gazing out onto the crystal clear waters of Tablerock Lake while sitting cozily snuggled up by the natural stone fireplace in my cabin. The warm soothing jets of the Jacuzzi tub in the cabin’s big bathroom had been calling me long distance for weeks.
And now, with this horrific news, my Christmas oriented envisioning of a quiet lovely stay away started being diminished by the slowly rolling in of the dark clouds of guilt. Knowing I would be having such a lovely quietly comfortable Christmas while my long lost sister and her immediate family would be encased in the pain and chaos caused by her husband and step-son’s unconscionable crimes, caused me pause.
Of course, I am a huge believer and great teacher of guilt being among the most wasted, controlling and negative energies on Earth. I had to rewind my mind to remind myself that this is also true for me, not just for those I teach about the negative effects of unproductive unwarranted guilt ruling one’s life. Yet, guilt nagged at me and I continued to allow despair about the gravity of the situation to haunt me.
I kept asking myself how I could possibly leave for a pleasant Christmas vacation while knowing others whom I loved (no matter that the love was not returned) were in the dredges of discouragingly disappointing displacement, even while I logically knew that, in reality, I had next to nothing to do with the bad situation…I was merely a concerned onlooker.
Even in the moment, I realized guilt is normally more about unrealistically telling yourself that you don’t deserve something good, much more often than it is actually centered around having remorse for something where you’ve actually done a purposeful act of misdeed and should, in fact, feel remorse. Nevertheless, I couldn’t quite shake that cloud of guilt. It continued to persistently hover over me.
When I am unsure of what I am sure of, I turn to “The Big Guy in the Sky” for affirmation. When it is overly self-serving to receive a positive affirmation, I ask for a seemingly impossible affirmation…something that seems a chance in a thousand or more. In this case, I decided I needed a whopper of an affirmation.
In all of the times I had stayed at Big Cedar Lodge, I had never been given my room or cabin number previous to my stay. By the time I had booked for this particular time, I suppose I had stayed there at least thirty times over the years. I had, as well, never requested any certain cabin or room, beyond it being a size or type I was requiring in regard to whether I was alone or had a companion with me for the stay.
Before this planned trip, the last time I had been at Big Cedar Lodge, for some odd reason, I had noted that the cabin at the end of the swing bridge which joined one of the restaurants to where some of the cabins began, was a cabin numbered 511. Since my life’s path was starting to change in general (and rather drastically) and in conjunction with this current insane creepy event with my sister’s husband, I prayed to God, “If it’s okay that I’m staying at Big Cedar for Christmas, if I should help my sister unconditionally, and if I’m on my correct life’s path, please show me by having me stay in Cabin 511.”
I let it go at that. This was approximately a week before my time reserved.
Within my insurance benefits consulting business, I had fairly major dealings with another company located in Springfield, Missouri; about forty minutes from Big Cedar Lodge. Two days after I had prayed for this affirmation, I was planning on calling Big Cedar to find out what room I was in, believing they would have surely assigned room numbers at least five days in advance, if not sooner. However, before I had dialed their number, my own phone rang. It was the president of the company which I was associated with in Springfield who was calling.
He was calling to ask if I would be willing to stay another day over the time I had booked, as he had a meeting he felt was important that I be a part of. He offered to pay for the extra day. I told him that I’d be happy to stay over, but it was rather unlikely that I could get an extra day’s stay, as they were always heavily booked at Christmas time. However, I agreed to call Big Cedar and give him a call back with the answer.
The reservation clerk cheerily answered the phone and looked up my reservation. I did not ask her what room I was in. I merely asked about the possibility of staying an extra day. Again, I had never previously been given my room’s number ahead of time. She said, “Let me see, Ms. Tate…you are in Cabin 524. No, there is no possibility of your staying an extra day. That cabin is booked for a week starting the day of your departure.”
I thanked her for checking and was disappointedly thinking I was going to cancel and lose my non-refundable reservations, because I knew by the cabin number (524) that I wasn’t to go on my trip after all. In fact, I was having a quick flash of wondering if all I had been thinking that I was doing and was supposed to do was wrong. Then, without my uttering another syllable, the young woman asked, “Could I put you on hold for just a moment, Ms. Tate?”
Of course, I said, “Of course.”
When she came back she had the most astounding information. She said, “Ms. Tate, you’re booked in Cabin 524, but if you would be willing to change cabins, we could book you in another cabin where you could stay an extra day.”
I told her that would be great. She put me on hold again.
When she got back on the line she said, “Okay, you were in Cabin 524 and I now have you changed to Cabin 511. Will that be okay?”
“Yes, Miss Just-Mind-Freaked-Me, that would be excellent. Thank you.”
God and the Universe has quite a sense of humor. Five days later when I arrived and started to check in, the front desk clerk gave me the key to Cabin 524. I stared at it with a puzzled look on my face. Feeling like Christopher Reeve’s character in “SOMEWHERE IN TIME” when he initially is given the wrong room number within his time travel, I asked, “Are you sure this is the right cabin?”
The clerk looked a bit annoyed, as they are very organized at Big Cedar and if my room key was 524, he had no reason to doubt that it was correct. I smiled and asked him if he wouldn’t mind checking. The queerest look came over his face when he reexamined my reservations. He looked at me apologetically and said, “I’m sorry, Ms. Tate, you’re correct. You are not in Cabin 524. I can’t imagine how this happened. You’re in Cabin 511. I’ll correct it immediately.”
I smiled. I knew how it had happened.
It was the best Christmas I’ve ever had.
Oh, incase you’re wondering…the bungling bank robber went to jail and died there within three years. The aiding and abetting son turned state’s evidence on his father and was given twenty years of probation, which he broke within six months and is now back in jail.
That amazing over-the-top affirmation has served to allow me peace within the changes that continue to permeate my life. People often ask me why those kinds of affirmations seem to happen to me and not to them.
It’s quite simple. For one thing, many times, affirmations actually do happen and are not seen because the person is blinded by their own desires for the outcome. I ask for my “affirmations” with full faith that, whatever happens, it is, indeed, my answer…even when it goes against my heart’s hope. I’m willing to believe the answer without condition to the answer. I’m also willing to act within that affirmation’s answering.
Of course, I’ve often also had an affirmation be the opposite of what happened with my Big Cedar affirmation. I was once given a resounding “NO!!” to something I thought I could not live without. Not only did I live without it…as the truth was revealed about the situation through the passing of time, I now gratefully thank God and the Universe for the “NO!!” It was not only for the best…it was one of the best “negative” affirmations I’ve ever received.
Many people believe seven (7) is a lucky number. My lucky number within that particular Christmas inspired moment was 511. In the practice of numerology that IS seven.
With Cabin 511, I was given a numerological lucky number, seven, which must have come straight from heaven.