The crew of the Heart of Gold has just been rescued. By what or whom, they have no idea . . .
Twenty yards away he could dimly see through the smoke the space-suited figure of one of the cops. He was lying in a crumpled heap on the ground. Twenty yards in the other direction lay the second man. No one else was anywhere to be seen.
This struck Ford as being extremely odd.
Slowly, nervously, he walked toward the first one. The body lay reassuringly still as he approached it, and continued to lie reassuringly still as he reached it and put his foot down on the Kill-O-Zap gun that still dangled from its limp fingers.
He reached down and picked it up, meeting no resistance.
The cop was quite clearly dead.
A quick examination revealed him to be from Blagulon Kappa--he was a methane-breathing life form, dependent on his space suit for survival in the thin oxygen atmosphere of Magrathea.
The tiny life-support system computer on his backpack appeared unexpectedly to have blown up.
Ford poked around in it in considerable astonishment. These miniature suit computers usually had the full back-up of the main computer back on the ship, with which they were directly linked through the sub-etha. Such a system was fail-safe in all circumstances other than total feedback malfunction, which was unheard of.
He hurried over to the other prone figure, and discovered that exactly the same impossible thing had happened to him, presumably simultaneously.
He called the others over to look. They came, shared his astonishment, but not his curiosity.
"Let's get shot of this hole," said Zaphod. "If whatever I'm supposed to be looking for is here, I don't want it." He grabbed the second Kill-O-Zap gun, blasted a perfectly harmless accounting computer and rushed out into the corridor, followed by the others. He very nearly blasted hell out of an aircar that stood waiting for them a few yards away. The aircar was empty, but Arthur recognized it as belonging to Slartibartfast.
It had a note from him pinned to part of its sparse instrument panel. The note had an arrow drawn on it, pointing at one of the controls.
It said, This is probably the best button to press.
It often happens like this in life--help coming from unexpected or unknown sources. If you're Christian, like me, you would call it grace. I suppose, if you aren't Christian, you might call it luck. Whatever term you choose to apply, when you are the recipient of it, it fills you with a kind of deep gratitude and relief.
This evening, someone very close to me is dealing with some bad news, with the possibility of even more bad news tomorrow. (Don't try to psychoanalyze what I'm going to be saying. This is not about me. It is a person I care about deeply. Let's leave it at that.) It has to do with his health. Let's call this person "Drake."
Now, Drake has sort of created his situation because of the choices he's been making in his life. He knows this. He understands this. The thing that confounds me is that he seems hell bent on continuing down the destructive path he's been on, even though God seems to be sending him a pretty clear warning. Drake is doing what a lot of people do--ignoring God's signs, simply saying, "I'm going to live my life that way I want. It's my life. You--or God-- can't tell me what to do."
I'm really sad for Drake. He's a good, loving person. If I were to get Biblical, I'd call him a lost sheep. He's stuck in a pattern of destructive behaviors that, eventually, are going to end his life prematurely. No "if" in that statement. It's just plain "when." And I can't to anything to stop him. I've tried and pretty much been shut down every time.
So, this evening, I started using something I was given at my spiritual writing workshop this weekend. One of the ladies in one of my sessions offered my Lutheran prayer beads. Now, I grew up Catholic, so I'm very comfortable saying the rosary. I find that kind of deep meditation very helpful and healing. The Lutheran prayer beads are a little different from reciting the rosary.
On each set of "week beads," you focus on different things. There are four sets of week beads. Each set has, you guessed it, seven beads. On Week One, you focus on things for which you want to praise God. Week Two, you confess your failings and weaknesses (sins). Week Three, you lift up your needs--the joys and concerns you have. Week Four, you offer thanks to God for the blessings in your life.
This isn't the first time I've encountered Lutheran prayer beads, but this is the first time that I've used them fully. The feel of the beads rolling between my fingers was very familiar and comforting. And I spent a good portion of my meditation focusing on Drake and his situation. When I was done, I felt calmer. Peaceful. Like God had really heard what was in my heart.
If you have a moment tonight or tomorrow, please say some prayers for Drake. He needs them. Pray for his health. Pray that he sees his way out of the hole that he's digging for himself. Pray for grace. And pray for Drake's family, as well. They're really hurting and in need of a little of that grace, as well.
Saint Marty is grateful this evening for the unexpected gift of prayer beads. They have brought some balance into his life tonight.
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