I spent most of the morning yesterday taking down and putting away the Christmas decorations throughout our house. We took all the ornaments off the tree and tucked them carefully and neatly into their boxes. We sorted the various pieces of the manger scene and the Christmas village and returned them to their wrapping and packaging. The Nutcrackers were slipped back into their boxes, the lights were put back on their reels, the garlands were coiled into their storage boxes, and the wreaths were taken off the doors. Then we carefully carried all the boxes back up to the attic and stacked them away in the far corner until next year.
But I was not quite as careful as I should have been. As I was coming back down the attic stairs at one point, I lost my footing on the second (almost non-existent) step and nearly fell out of the attic and down the stairs.
Luckily, I was able to catch myself on the edge of the opening, so I only slipped down a couple of steps, scratching and bruising my lower back on the metal brace along the side and scraping my foot in several places. My injuries were somewhat painful, but they were minor compared to what might have happened had I not been able to catch myself. I would have tipped backwards and slid down the stairs on my back before landing headfirst at the bottom. I could very easily have broken a wrist, an arm, a rib, a cheekbone. I could even have hit my head on the far side of the opening and ended up with a concussion.
I wasn’t careful, but I was lucky.
There are a lot of times in my life when I have been saved from a severe or scary fate by sheer luck. Sometimes I’m being stupid, sometimes not; sometimes I’m being careless, sometimes not. There are definitely times when there was nothing I could have done to avoid a situation, and the only thing that saved me was luck. In this case, there were things I could have done to avoid the accident: fixing that missing step, for one. But other times, there really wasn’t anything I could have done. Like the time the CV joint in my car broke right before I pulled onto the highway, so I was driving slowly and was close enough to the shoulder to be able to safely roll out of traffic.
“Luck,” of course, means different things to different people. To some, it is pure chance. To others, it is a form of karma, where good luck results from morally good things we have done in the past and bad luck results from morally wrong things we have done. I personally believe that luck encompasses both pure chance, the normal operation of the universe within its set physical laws, but also the hand of God sometimes intervening in human lives. I don’t know why God sometimes chooses to intervene and sometimes He doesn’t. I don’t know why my daughter survived her near-drowning when other victims do not. I don’t claim to have earned that mercy, and I certainly don’t claim that others who did not receive that mercy were not worthy of it. But I am grateful every time God chooses to override either my own stupidity or the workings of physical principles. You can call it divine intervention, karma, or fate. But I’m glad it happens sometimes.