We didn't even see it coming though we were accustomed to swerving to avoid them. In the case of months of prolonged rain, an unexpected placement on a side street and high grass growing in the gravel along the street, this one was completely obscured from view. The danger hiding beneath met the right front tire of our van with a jolting thud, violently jossling the contents of its interior with the force of a shark bite. A man hole without a cover, it wasn't what we expected.
Often times man holes lose their covers here. Every other day there is a new gaping hole right where your car needs to drive. I don't know why, but they just seem to disappear frequently. There were manholes everywhere on the streets of Puerto Plata, the city on the north coast of the D.R. where we lived for 2.5 years.
To further complicate matters, driving in the D.R. is as if the game frogger and police academy had a baby. Trying to cross the road + trying to decide what is a danger and what is not =
stopping suddenly for the 3 year old crossing traffic with a bag of eggs, but speeding up for the BIG MAC truck that appeared out of nowhere while creating a lane to let it narrowly pass as you count the driver's nose hairs because the encounter was that close.
If you are driving between the lane lines, your tires pass right over the covered man holes. (The concept of staying between the lines is rather fluid here. Drivers pass on all sides, even in the lane of oncoming traffic, turn without blinkers, stop suddenly without notice, park in the middle of a lane, swerve repeatedly, drive at night without lights, and will turn two lanes into 5 often, etc.) Did I mention FROGGER? Things are always popping out from an unknow location - especially MOTOS! Motos are a major form of transportation here, and moto drivers tend to have an invincible mentality, turning out into traffic without even looking, darting across multiple lanes of traffic, weaving in and out of stopped cars, etc.
In our case on that day on a random small side street of Puerto Plata, what popped out nearly pulled us under. It wasn't because we didn't know the danger or were wreckless, we simply did NOT know it was there. It was hidden, out of sight. One minute we were driving along and the next we were scratching our heads because we were in a hole. Can you relate?
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we can not avoid man holes without covers, unexpected life moments that knock the wind right out of our chest. Those "what just happened?" moments where disappointment, dispair and hopelessness concoct a plan to blot out joy.
He sees us. He loves us. He is neither dismayed, startled, nor in a quandry about what to do next. His hands are not tied by our wheel that is stuck 3 feet deep nor our empty pocketbook that mocks us in the face of needed repairs. No, God is not discouraged. He is not fretful. He tells us in advance that nothing, NOT ANYTHING, can separate us from Him. He sees the #suckerpunch and says:
Come to me.
I am near.
I will cover you.
You are mine.
Yes, "man holes without covers" can cause quite a jolt, and without Him I would never want to be in one. But with Him, I know that I'm NOT stuck.