I've experienced many so-called GodNods over the course of living seven-plus decades. One from nearly two decades past leaps readily to mind when I attempt to list them all.
It was March 26, 2002, when Alderman Trent Trumbo of Fayetteville swerved hard right to avoid a collision along I-49 as he headed back to Fayetteville during a quick round trip to Fort Smith.
His sudden jerk of the wheel sent the SUV over the shoulder and hurtling down a steep embankment for nearly 200 yards, smashing directly into the broad trunk of a large oak tree. Trent reportedly was ejected through the vehicle's sun roof and into the tree.
Although we occasionally disagreed over policies during the years, we also became friends in the process. I'd always liked and respected Trent, a Marine veteran and generally good man. I also counted it a shame that we'd somehow never been able to play golf together even though that was something we'd both wanted.
Hearing of Trent's death that March morning, I drove from Fayetteville to the relevant mile marker in the northbound lane and pulled well to the side to sit and watch. A highway work crew was pulling Trent's vehicle back up the embankment. His body had long since been transported to Fayetteville.
Walking afterwards down that grassy slope, I arrived at the scarred tree still surrounded by debris from the impact. Standing there in a silent prayer for him, I decided to write, "Trent, you are not forgotten" on the back of my business card and place it beneath a large rock nearby.
Flash forward a month or so as I'm cleaning out the garage. In the process of moving several cardboard boxes from one end to the other, I noticed from the corner of one eye a fluttering white flash settle on the floor.
Placing a box in its new spot, I returned to see a business card on the concrete. I noticed handwriting on one side and pulled my readers from the pocket.
I stood frozen in fascination at what I was reading.
The only item to somehow escape from any of those boxes that day, the flash that had caught my eye although I'd been staring straight ahead, was a message written on the back of Trent Trumbo's business card. It read: "Mike, let's play golf sometime."
In a world where coincidence gets far too much credit, I had seemingly exchanged business cards with Trent well after his death, complete with handwritten messages. And his was a card I hadn't remembered receiving or even seeing. I keep business cards in my wallet or a file, not in cardboard boxes.
In this world where rampant negativity and negative people have found their place for denials and smears on social media, there will be those who contend our exchange was happenstance and there was nothing supernatural about it.
And that's OK if they choose such a worldview. It's a free country (for now, anyway).
Besides, I've come to live by the adage that those who judge others don't define their objects of disdain. Instead, they define themselves.
Truth is, nothing anyone else might argue could convince me this inanimate little card and its message I couldn't remember receiving during our friendship somehow found its way from within that sealed box to reach my eyes, mind and heart.
Those odds, in themselves, would defy their own laws of both logic and physics, wouldn't you agree?
By the way, if you've experienced a GodNod, an inexplicable event or circumstance in your life that can best be described by divine intervention, I'm always interested in hearing about it. Just send an email. I'll be reading.
Sunshine in new year
With news of the day permeated by negative stories involving the election, the spread of covid, rioting and seriously rising crime in cities that bizarrely encourage it, one story last week did this ol' heart good.
I'm talking about reporter Lynn Kutter's recent story that detailed the compassion and caring of an 11-year-old boy from Farmington.
The article was a ray of sunshine for us all following a bleak and best-forgotten 2020.
Jaxton Jowers decided during the Christmas season that he wanted to do something special for the 65 residents and 25 staff members of the local nursing home called Peachtree Village.
The thoughtful boy brought snacks and gifts to give to each resident and staffer. How many 11-year-olds do you know who would treat so many others like he'd like to be treated, especially dozens of largely forgotten nursing-home residents at Christmas?
Because of his kindness, Peachtree activities director Lisa McCoy said she plans to schedule a "Jaxton Jowers Day" at some point. Perhaps, hopefully, this young man's exceptional kindness will spur other youths to follow his lead. We can hope. Gosh knows we can all use such selflessness in times such as these.
Now go out into the world (and be like Jaxton) by treating everyone you meet exactly like you want them to treat you.
Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist, was editor of three Arkansas dailies and headed the master's journalism program at Ohio State University. Email him at [email protected]