Sunday, September 14, 2014


I had something happen yesterday that has not happened before and has scared the  BEJEEBERS out of me! Yesterday I drove with Fr. Godfred our parochial vicar 60 miles to Dublin, Georgia for the celebration of Candidacy for our permanent deacon candidate Dennis Duncan.

The Mass began at 10:30 and this was followed by a luncheon. It was a bit of a heavy meal for me but delicious. Then Fr. Godfred and I departed to return to Macon.

About 20 miles outside of Macon on Interstate 16, I started to feel very drowsy! I did everything I could to control my drowsiness by making sure the cold air was blowing on my face; I kept moving and trying to keep alert.

Then about 5 miles outside of Macon going about 75 MPH, I actually went into la-la land at the wheel! Fortunately there was no traffic around me which is unusual for this stretch of I-16. I literally dozed off and was seconds from a sound sleep when something awoke me!

As I awoke I realized where I was, what I was doing and that I was drifting from the passing lane to the right lane and toward the side of a small bridge! I don't remember if I had originally been in the right lane and drifted to the passing lane and then was heading back to the other lane.

I think Fr. Godfred was awake, but I am not sure because he never said anything.

I was shocked and an adrenalin rush helped to wake me up completely to arrive home safely.

As I have thought about this since then, I am most thankful to God that I didn't kill Fr. Godfred or myself or both of us and I am extremely grateful I didn't kill anyone else. If I had run off the interstate either into on coming traffic, someone in front of me or on the side of me or hit that bridge over a creek, it would have been a devastating accident to say the least.

It made me aware also of my personal judgement at the hour of death. In fact it flashed through my mind (not knowing how long I actually did doze, which was brief but certainly too long) that maybe I had crashed, been killed and was on the way to God in my vehicle! Really, I thought this for a split second. How could I be driving at 75 MPH, fall asleep at the wheel and not crash?

What woke me up and quickly so? I could have gone into an actual deeper sleep at that point!

I thank God that nothing happened to Fr. Godfred, anyone else or me. What a nightmare!

But the question should haunt all of us when we realize what can happen in a split second and how our lives can conclude. Are we ready for it, spiritually and otherwise? I think I am spiritually, but could improve on that. I have a last will and testament and I think all my business is in order for those who have to disperse my small estate.I was wearing clean underwear.


James said...

I'm glad you're OK. I nod off like this on the way home from work most days (fortunately I take the train!), and jolt awake again after a few seconds. But that's long enough for something awful to happen in a car. In my case, it's down to not enough sleep, not enough exercise, and too much weight, which I guess is true of most of us.

Lovely wedding service from the Vatican this morning, but Pope Francis too looked like he could use a bit more sleep.

Gene said...

This event is an allegory for today's Church…very symbolic...

Anonymous said...

Ahhh...typical humor at the end.

Gotta hand it to you to go public with this.
What an example of humility and allowing yourself and your experiences to be God's instruments for others...providing folks a reality check reminder to have ALL one's affairs in order.

That lullaby-road I-16 almost got me once too.

Falling asleep at the wheel is more common than folks realize!...especially on
sunny afternoon drives on boring roads, like I-16 and I-20, when the body actually wants a siesta is very common. We need to be alert to that!

I was first made aware of this when, in high school, the mother of a friend did that. It happened in Putnam County on a back road just north of Eatonton.
How she survived with just mega-bruising and a totaled car is a miracle.
Since then, I try to be aware when this could happen to me on a dull afternoon drive. So far so good.

Also, daytime sleepiness due to poor sleep is rampant!
Snoring and Sleep Apnea are major causes of falling asleep at the wheel.
If in doubt about one's own sleep status, then best to request a sleep study.
Frequently falling asleep during Mass is another sign that a sleep study may be needed.

Maybe God was keeping you around so that you could be here to bless the new Altar Rails.
And hear a few more confessions. ;-)


Anonymous said...

I have not used an alarm for over 30 years--totally depend on my guardian angel --he has never failed me. I hope you thanked yours!

George said...

Fr McDonald:
I'm glad that you and Fr Godfred did not end up in an accident. This could have had a really bad outcome. Thanks be to God it did not.
You are right.

Anonymous 2 said...

Many years ago I lost a dear friend and colleague that way. I have no siblings and she was like a sister to me. Tragedy can indeed happen so quickly. We have probably all had this experience of nodding off at the wheel. In my experience, if someone else cannot take over the driving, one of the best things to do when you are feeling drowsy like that is to pull over and take a quick cat nap. I have had to do this several occasions. Thank God you are both okay.

rcg said...

Father, I downloaded the dash cam and here is what it shows: what Fr Godfred saw

Anonymous said...

One day I was headed to the grocery store, and was moving forward preparing to turn, when suddenly a semi-truck veered right at me trying to avoid another car. Luckily I swerved to the right, and he also to the right, and he missed me. Also luckily there was not one in the right lane, so I didn't get into an accident.
But that was the same kind of wake up call for me as you had, Father. I still can see the huge grill of that truck coming right at me. I realized, as quickly as a breath, I could have been killed, not 5 minutes from home.
Makes you remember at any time you must be ready to meet Our Lord, and answer for everything.
So glad your Guardian Angel roused you. It must not have been your (or Father Godfred's) time.
God bless.

Pater Ignotus said...

Only 75? That's slow for you good Father...

WSquared said...

I thank God you and Fr. Godfred are all right.

I'm grateful for all you do here at Southern Orders, and you've been in my prayers for a very long time, Father.

JusadBellum said...

On long car trips I drink only protein (beef broth) as it is more stimulating that coffee.

On shorter trips I always keep a 5-hour energy drink on hand as they really do work for about....3 hours.

If nothing else works, then get in an argument either with a passenger or your own imagination about some emotional topic to do with politics or religion.

On a 14 hour car trip where I was the only driver, my passenger and I got home safely at 3am because the last 4 hours were spent in a spirited argument over politics (which my passenger intentionally started and took the opposing view point so as to keep the adrenaline pumping).

It worked.

So if you can, imagine a debate between Gene and Pater Ignotius and guess what each will say and why.

Althea Gardner said...

Thank goodness you had on clean underwear! Glad you made it back safe.

Arcturus said...

If you are needing broth or 5 Hour Energy drinks to stay awake in daytime driving, something is wrong with you.

Shots of caffeine or complex chemicals aren't normal. Sleep well, exercise, eat healthily and drowsy driving won't be a problem.