Three Burly Angels

Good Samaritan by Vincent Van Gogh

Good Samaritan by Vincent van Gogh (1890)


Years ago, too many years ago, I was driving a borrowed Volkswagen Beetle from Camrose, Alberta to my parents’ home in Kelowna, B.C.  I was driving with my girlfriend (still my girlfriend actually—after nearly 40 years of marriage) and a good friend of both of us. In the early evening, just outside of Enderby, the little VW veered and I heard an ugly “thump, thump, thump.” Flat tire. I had just enough VW sense to go to the front of the car and look under the hood for the spare. But nestled very nicely in the slot for the spare tire was a red plastic gas can. We were prepared for trouble as it happened, but not for this particular trouble.

So there we were. We asked each other: where was the last service station? Might they handle tires? And how were we going to get back there? While we talked, quite suddenly, a little white Toyota Pickup truck pulled in behind us—I thought a bit aggressively. Three burly men piled out of it. I remember having a sinking feeling in my stomach. One of the men spoke up:

“Got trouble?”

“Yeah, flat tire, I guess.”

“Got a spare?”


“Well, we were just goin’ home from work, but if you like I’ll give you a lift back to town. There’s a place there I know. I think it’s still open, and they’re pretty decent folks.”

So we jacked up the car, removed the flat and headed into the town, found the little gas station and found a tire for the VW rim. I had just enough money in my pocket—a small miracle in those days—and paid at the counter. Back at the car the three men helped us put the new tire in place.

“Thanks fellas.”

“Don’t mention it. Have a good one.”

And three burly men piled back in their little white Toyota and headed for home. As the truck pulled away we saw a sticker on their back bumper. There was the name of a church denomination displayed (whose theology I had some problems with to be honest) flanked on the right and the left by a simple Christian cross.

I never saw them again, these three burly angels. That is, I never knew their names, never knew where they were from, never knew the names of their mothers and fathers. But out of the blue these three dropped into our lives, reached out to three strangers in need, and then were gone.

Keep your eyes open this Christmas season for God’s angels among us. And perhaps, if the right moment arrives, be one.


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