Hand of God.
I have heard this phrase uttered only a few times during my years as a journalist. On previous occasions, it was spoken by law enforcement officers when describing a miraculous moment.
Cops versus criminals in an honest-to-goodness shootout. Bad guy's gun glitches, and he can't take the shot.
Lives are saved. No funerals with waving flags are planned.
Parents go home to hug their wives and kids.
Who knows why it happened, but it did.
My work week ends on a Saturday with yet another crash on Interstate 77. I cringe at the sight of the burned, destroyed wreckage.
Then come words I am not expecting -- the driver survived.
The investigating trooper tells me the man fell asleep and ran off the road. His car then flipped, landed on its top and caught on fire. Good Samaritans pulled him to safety.
The words sink in, and I exclaim, "This is an awesome story!"
The trooper pauses at my excitement over a crash.
"He survived," I say. "He made it home for his daughter's birthday."
We don't get many lives saved on the treacherous I-77.
A few days later I am back in the office and preparing to interview one of the Good Samaritans.
Tracy Zimmerman drives a tractor-trailer with her husband, Ed. They had picked up a load in North Carolina and were traveling to Illinois when they encountered the crash.
The two rushed to the vehicle along with three others armed with fire extinguishers and a crowbar.
They pulled the driver, Calvin Alexander, of Mabscott, out of the vehicle and about 30 feet away to safety.
A Courtesy Patrol driver then pulled up and parked between the burning car and injured man.
"By this time, the entire car had caught fire," Tracy tells me. "A few minutes after that the gas tank exploded … the car exploded and pieces went everywhere. All we could do was hunker down and see where it was going to fall. It was unreal."
Leaving the scene, Tracy says she and Ed did not know Alexander's condition.
She prayed, and asked others to do so as well.
Later, Tracy learned of Alexander's survival through the Daily Telegraph story.
"To know that he was OK, I just broke down crying," she says. "That's all we wanted to know, was that he was OK."
Tracy credits God with putting the travelers in place to rescue Alexander.
Two with fire extinguishers. One with a crowbar.
All willing to stop their vehicles and rush toward danger.
"God puts us where he needs us to be at that moment," Tracy says.
I don't dispute her claim. Instead I recall words solemnly spoken after a shootout years ago.
Hand of God.
A day later I am missing my good Samaritans and positive story of survival.
Photographer Jessica Nuzzo and I have spent the afternoon at the Mercer County Courthouse. After three hearings, we leave slightly shell-shocked (by journalism definition), and shaking our heads.
One bond reduction hearing for a woman charged with first-degree murder that included decapitation.
One plea hearing involving alleged high school "sextortion." (Yes, that's a word now.)
And one arraignment for a couple charged with felony child neglect of a 7-year-old special needs boy.
I don't think a belief in divine intervention necessitates one carrying a bible or going to church on Sunday.
One can be a follower of many faiths -- or not.
Call it what you want -- hand of God, karma or coincidence -- but I like to think wrongs of the world will ultimately be righted. If not today, then tomorrow or even next year.
And I want to believe the seemingly elusive and scarce goods deeds will be rewarded.
People will rally to save a life.
Children will be rescued from harm's way.
And, with hope, justice will always be served -- fairly, blindly and swiftly.
Samantha Perry is editor of the Daily Telegraph. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her @BDTPerry.