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A Plug for a Paring Knife

by Timothy “The Incomplete Skeptic” Cameron, Corcoran Neighbor

Where the expressions of science meet the guardians of elegant sufficiency

My grandfather taught me how to whittle wood as a wee lad, which activity quieted my mind. Sadly, he passed away while whittling wood, seated next to my brother and me on the living room couch. He died of a heart attack, with the whittling knife still clutched in his hand.

Shortly after Grampa passed away while whittling some wood, I broke the whittling knife he gifted me. I located and ‘made do’ with a paring knife from our kitchen drawer. I diligently keep my eye open for interesting pieces of wood to carve, and no matter where I went, I faithfully carried that paring knife in the back pocket of my ‘britches’ (britches was my Gramps’ name for pants). Whittling was my way of carrying Grampa’s heart close to my heart and honoring his impact upon my life.

One day, my brother and I went over to a friend’s house to play, but nobody was home. We amused ourselves on their backyard tire swing, played on monkey bars, slides, etc.

An idea from school captured my curiosity and had been percolating in my little brain. Whenever I learned something new or fascinating, I would always pass that lesson on to my little brother. Having learned about electricity from a teacher in a recent class, I decided to show off to him what I learned. The teacher had earnestly cautioned us that water and metal are conductors of electricity, and assured us that wood in not a conductor of electricity. To provide evidence to my little brother that electricity cannot travel or conduct through the wood, I walked him over to a 220-Volt socket to attend my Show & Tell demonstration.

Since my paring knife had a wooden handle covering the metal, I believed I could safely insert it into the socket. I pulled open the grey metal safety guard from the plug and drew the paring knife from my back pocket. I told my brother to watch me as I began explaining the laws of electricity.

I boldly went where no bright boy had gone before, and confidently plugged my knife into the socket. My lecture ended as I experienced 220-volts of electricity coursing through my body.

Suddenly, I became terrifyingly aware my lesson went awry. My young mind hadn’t considered that metal rivets held the wooden handle of the knife together, and I was touching them. The powerful current coursed through me, keeping my entire body frozen in place.

My brother must have sensed something was wrong (maybe because for once because I was not talking). He said, “Are you alright? Are you alright?” Unable to move my lips, I said, “I ant oove! I ant oove!” (‘I can’t move! I can’t move!’). I could not pronounce the words correctly. He then said, “Do you want me to pull you away?”

I quickly told my brother, “Oh! Oh! Own ush e! Own ush e!” (that is, ‘No! No! Don’t touch me! Don’t touch me’!) I remembered the teacher warning us about the dangers of touching a person having electricity going through them, that would fall victim to a bigger jolt than the electrocuted person.

At this desperate point, I thought a silent, frantic prayer for help, thinking, “God, help me.” Just then, I felt two large, heavy hands pressing down firmly, one upon each of my shoulders. Those hands yanked me backwards away from the plug, freeing me.

Stunned, I turned around to see who helped me. Only my wide-eyed brother was there. While I knew my brother could not have been the one that saved me, I was bewildered by what happened. I gave my brother a stern parental look and firmly demanded, “Did you touch me?” With quivering fear in his voice, he said, “No.”

Perhaps the two strong hands on my shoulders belonged to my guardian angel. Maybe it was my grandfather.

In later years, I once sensed that my grandfather was helping me. I was on the way to the hospital for a biopsy and was afraid I would die. I read that a small number of people die from the biopsy needle piercing a vein, and the patient dies. On the way to the hospital, I was praying hard for comfort and protection. I then heard a gentle male voice say in my ear, “You’ll be OK.”

The voice possessed a peaceful love that poured through my soul. And the voice seemed familiar, somehow. I wondered at the time if it was my grandpa. Maybe he is an angel?

Today, I view this early experience as evidence that God has a purpose for my life. At the very least, it was an answer to prayer. Through the years, I have had miraculous experiences that have literally saved my life. While I cannot say for a certainty what God’s precise design is for my life, it seems that God desires to protect me from harm. Am I trying to get anyone reading this article to believe in God? No, I am not. Take what you like and leave the rest. I am The Incomplete Skeptic, but I’ve dispensed with being cynical.

Peace to you.

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