by Cheri Chesley
It's funny how life experiences can color our perspectives. I had an inkling of a "writerly" post for today, but last night something happened that will make this more of a spiritual post. This is more about the LDS than Writers in our blog's title.
One of the things I've had to get used to since our move to OK is that our new house has two antiquated gas heaters in the bathrooms. The other day I went to my husband and asked him to please show me how to light them so that we aren't always at the mercy of him being home to bring warmth to certain areas of the house. Mind you, I've had experience with gas stoves, gas ovens--including the kind I had to light myself. I'm not a wimp; I can do this.
Sometimes I try too hard.
Last night, I went to light the heater in our bathroom because it is the only thing that warms our bedroom. Except I stuck the lighter in too far, and, without thinking, pulled it out slowly to reach the gas. The gas had only a few seconds to pool right there, but that was enough.
Suddenly, all I see is a fireball billowing right at my face. I pull back and extinguish the lighter at the same time. In my peripheral vision, I can see flames and hear my hair burning. I stamp it out with my hands. Hair burns fast, but it's easy to put out. A high school friend who smoked taught me that.
I looked in the mirror to assess two things--one, was I "OUT", and two, how bad did I burn? Heavenly Father gave me a gift, or talent, if you want to view it that way, in that I never panic in the moment of crisis. Many of us have this; I'm so grateful for maintaining my presence of mind in critical moments. We've all seen the viral videos of people absolutely taken by panic when they need to take action. We usually laugh, as is the video's intent.
There is extensive damage to my hair, of course only in the front because I was leaning over the heater while attempting to light it. I was growing out my bangs. A trip to the salon today will determine if that's still going to happen. My eyebrows are slightly singed, as are my eyelashes.
My eyelashes. Less than half an inch from my eyes. My husband stares at me a bit longer than necessary. "What?" I ask, thinking the singed and burned hair must look stupid. "I'm so glad you didn't lose your eyes," he says.
It didn't take long to feel profound gratitude to my Heavenly Father that things were not significantly worse. I don't even have a "sunburn." And we're taking a trip to the salon today, not the doctor's office. We didn't spend last night in the ER. My plans to write this December have not been put on hold.
And I do still have most of my hair.
I get a little tingly when I think of that moment, when the fireball was coming right at me. I know in that moment I was being protected. I felt it. Were there hands on my shoulders, pulling me back? I can't say for certain, but I will tell you that was the most crowded tiny bathroom I've ever been alone in.
Thank you, Father, for looking out for me when I wasn't. I really appreciate it.
And I told my husband, from now on, lighting the heaters is HIS job. ;)