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Jottings contributor Cherie Dupuis knew she should stop to see her friend. Finally she listened to her inner voice and found her friend in need.

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

— from "Hamlet"

by William Shakespeare

I was to spend the day at a professional conference in a city near my hometown.

I drove a winding street on the outskirts of the city enjoying the stately old homes.

The houses reminded me of my childhood friend, Vicky, an ardent preservationist. I realized I was only four blocks from the business where she worked. That's when a loud voice started speaking in my head, "Stop and see Vicky. Stop." I considered it, then answered, "I can only do one thing at a time."

For now, I had to get to the conference.

Vicky and I were inseparable through college. Then I left for Boston and she settled in our hometown.

It was now 20 years later and we lived 50 miles apart, and were caught up in our individual family lives so had lost contact. But I would hear about her through my mom.

And Mom said Vicky had taken a stand against razing the convent, a historical building where generations of farm families had boarded while attending school.

Most people in town preferred to construct a Butler building in the convent's place, and spare the town the hassle of reconstruction.

The backlash to her letter to the editor was unexpectedly cruel. An outhouse had been placed on her front lawn with a sign, "Vicky's Convent." I knew Vicky had to be hurting. And there was a time when I would have stood boldly by her. So I knew why the voice was continuing even as I took my place at the conference. "After the conference," I said to quiet the voice. I then immersed myself in fascinating lectures.

The conference ran almost an hour over its scheduled end time. I was on that same city street rushing to get home. The voice was sounding again, but I told myself my family needed me. I was already preparing dinner in my mind as I drove.

"Visit Vicky. Visit Vicky. You are so close." That voice was getting annoying so I said out loud, "OK, universe. If you want me to stop, you're going to have to give me a sign. I'm going home." I was mocking the voice because I didn't believe in signs.

I sped around a corner and was shocked to actually see a sign ... literally. A large yellow detour sign stood in the road. A water main had broken and the detour signs kept moving me over a block at a time until I was at the front door of Vicky's business. I had to give up.

Vicky was slumped over her desk in the reception area, and when she saw me she cried. "Where did you come from?" she asked. "God sent me." I had no other explanation.

Was it God? Was it my subconscious? Was it random chance? Was it the natural law of the universe asserting itself?

I really don't need an answer. I like living with mystery. I find that many of the knowledgeable answers we give ourselves are just for comfort anyway.

A friend who was in a near- death airline experience was told by a fellow traveler to start praying. She said, "I don't need to pray. God knows where I am." That day with Vicky I knew what she was describing.

And I now listen to that voice, whatever the source might be, because as Shakespeare wrot,e "there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

Cherie Dupuis is a member of the Jottings group at the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.

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