In a few days, I’ll be celebrating the 7th anniversary of my baptism. Way back on January 14, 2007, I decided to get baptized for a 2nd time in life. The first time was in 1996, at age 12, but I only went through it because my friends, at the time, did it and I was so impressionable back then. After years of teetering on the line, I came to a point, late in the Autumn of 2006, in which I made the decision that I’d take my walk as a Christian a lot more seriously. For me, that started with declaring it, which I did in Volume 7 of my journal. A few weeks later, I made my public declaration with the baptism and I’ve been on this path since. There was a critical moment for me in that transition that occurred way back on New Year’s Eve 2006. I recall praying to God that He’d bring the right people at the right time into my life. It was just a simple prayer, at least to me back then, but it’s one that God has time and time again honored…none more so than my debut trip to Washington, DC in June 2009, where I avoided certain injury and perhaps even death.
How I first came across this moment? I remember it like yesterday. It was June 22, 2009. The day before, I flew up from Birmingham to meet with my then-Congressman and do some mild sightseeing in my first ever trip to Washington. The 30-hour stay in DC was the first leg of a 7-day, 3-city trip that included my New York City debut and a long overdue return to Chicago. But the DC leg got off to a bad start when I woke up late, missed my flight, and my luggage got lost on the next flight. It put me behind the entire time. I was supposed to meet a poet friend a couple of hours after arriving in DC but that fell through when my luggage got lost. Amazingly, I happened to get back on schedule towards the end of the DC leg. The plan was for me to catch the DC Metro Red Line from Bethesda—where I had been doing some after-lunch sightseeing—all the way to Silver Spring, where I would stop by the Discovery Channel headquarters to get my dad a souvenir. I’d then hop back on the Red Line around 4:30pm to head down to Fort Totten, where I’d transfer to the Green Line so that I could make my way to The Mall at Prince Georges to shop before hopping back on the Green Line back to Fort Totten and then the Red Line to DC Union Station in order to make my 7pm ride to New York City on the Amtrak Acela Express. However, as I was entering into Bethesda Station, my poet friend called me up and said to meet her in the U Street Corridor. Change of plans. I ended up taking the Red Line to Gallery Place and transferring on the Green Line to U Street. As it turns out, her calling me saved my life. As a person who plans out everything very meticulously, it’s certain I would’ve been on the Red Line train that was rear-ended. Even more, as had been my custom from train riding in Tokyo, I usually rode in 1 of the 2 rear cars during peak hours because of likely seat availability. That said, I could’ve been in the rear car of that train and I could’ve been seriously hurt or even killed.
What it meant to me then? I didn’t find out what really happened until I got like 20 messages and 80 notifications on my then-Facebook page from friends that were Stateside and back in Japan asking if I was OK. A couple of hours earlier, I had put “about to hop on the DC Red Line” in my status. I had been wondering why none of the Red Line trains were coming when I got back to Gallery Place to head to Union Station. I ended up walking from Gallery Place to Union Station area hotel and that’s when my father called to tell me all the particulars. I remember my conversation with him as I was on the Acela Express and telling him that I was supposed to be on those trains. I noted that day and in the days to follow that the fact that I was late in the trip up to DC saved my life. I had a reputation for being on time, down to the second, and if everything would’ve went according to schedule, I probably wouldn’t be writing this post right now. My story probably would be finished. The fact that my friend—my sole contact in DC at the time—diverted my schedule, it still resonates with me.
What it means to me now? The really ironic thing about that whole scenario looking back on it 4 ½ years later is that me and that poet friend kind of fell off…nothing acrimonious or anything, just growing apart. But that moment she called me, I still remember it. I still thank God for it. It’s one of my testimonies that God is real and that He really does answer prayers and that the “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” part in the Bible is real.