Mysterious Ways: An Inspiring, De-stressing Detour

A surprise choral concert soothes the jangled nerves of an anxious traveler.

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Kids in a car on a road trip.

Traffic was pretty bad on I–95, but my husband, Mike, tapped his fingers on the steering wheel cheerfully. Our two kids were in the backseat, excitedly talking over which rides they wanted to go on once we got there.

We were driving from our home in Upstate New York to Disney World. Our first big family vacation. Who wouldn’t be excited?

Well...me. I suffer from extreme anxiety when I travel. An unfamiliar place can give me a full-blown panic attack. I’d managed okay for the first part of the drive, but now worries flooded my mind.

Had I packed Andy’s ear medication? Kate’s teddy bear? Why was there so much traffic? What if the car broke down?

Mike glanced over and saw the stress all over my face. “Let’s take a break,” he said. “There’s a McDonald’s at the rest area up ahead.”

I just nodded. My mouth was so dry I couldn’t talk. Maybe a cool drink would help.

Mike pulled our minivan into the drive-through behind a long line of cars. “Can I have French fries?” Andy asked. “Where’s my teddy?” Kate said. My heart hammered. Every muscle in my body tensed.

Relax, I tried to tell myself. That’s what vacation is for. But I just wished I were back home, where I felt safe.

Another sound reached my ears. Music. I rolled down my window. Voices rose together in perfect harmony. “In times of trouble he will shelter me...he will keep me safe...” Where was it coming from?

We inched forward in line. The singing got louder. A grassy island between the drive-through and the parking lot came into view. There, in two neat rows, wearing long burgundy robes, stood a dozen members of a church choir.

Their jubilant voices floated into the minivan, their song of praise stirring something deep inside me. “He will shelter me...” My heart rate slowed. The stress left my body. Calm settled over me.

“What a strange place for a concert,” Mike remarked.

No, I wanted to say, not really. Instead I closed my eyes and drank in the music.

 

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