The tragedies I see in the hospital sometimes seem like a soap-opera script or country song. A natural result of having witnessed these tragedies is the quick anxiety I develop when a family member is late coming home.
It happened last week. An hour late, my wife returned home portraying herself as the good Samaritan who helped a stranded motorist. I’ve told her the good Samaritan story has gotten more do-gooders killed than any other Bible story.

The story I tell today is the story she told me upon her late arrival and, apparently, she is sticking to it. My wife noticed a college-aged girl stranded in her packed VW convertible alongside a four-lane road near our house in 104-degree heat. With our daughter set to make an 800-mile college migration, empty-nest guilt combined with good Samaritan guilt motivated my wife to stop. The VW top was down, and the bug was packed to restock a college dorm room. On the folded-down top, strapped under bungee netting, was a bicycle.

“Are you having trouble?” my wife inquired. “Yes, I am. I can’t get the pig back in his kennel.”

That’s when my wife noticed movement under the netting. Trapped under the bungee-cord netting, inside the bicycle frame maze, was one scared pig.

“Oh. A pig, ” my wife exclaimed. Not knowing much about pigs and unsure how to help, my wife wondered why the pig had to be moved.

“Can’t it just stay up there?” she asked.

“Well, maybe,” the girl speculated. “Do you think it can travel 400 miles on the freeway like that?”

My wife indicated she didn’t much think the pig would like that.

“Let’s try to push it back into the crate” she suggested.

As the duo pushed, prodded and pulled to navigate the animal through the bike frame and out from under the bungee net, the pig let out horrendous squeals. One thing my wife now knows about pigs is that they can be extremely loud.

I don’t know much about pigs either, but I’ve heard they can be loud. Years ago, when I attended Baylor University , we were told pigs were loud enough that our arch rival, the Texas Aggies, used them for car alarms.

Alarmed the pig was beginning to foam at the mouth, my wife was loosing her motivation to hold this mammal. Loud, stinky, and now menacing an infectious disease, this scenario was veering off the “Candid Camera” set into the “Twilight Zone.”

That’s when it happened. The pig leapt from his perch and bolted across four lanes of Labor Day traffic.

Now, you have to understand, this is California. I’ve seen traffic back up for geese, dogs and skunks, but stopping for a pig would strain the patience of even the best tree-hugging Californians I know. Nevertheless, my wife was determined to make good her offer of help. She threw her arms up quicker than a charismatic in a tent revival meeting to bring four lanes to a screeching halt while the young lady ran after her pig. Cars were careening and bacon was squealing as the young girl cornered her chase in roadside bushes.

As my wife crossed the street to join them, she overheard the girl ask, “How do I get myself into these things?”

My wife echoed her sentiment in a mumble: “How do I get myself into these things?”

Despite having trapped the pig in the bushes, the women were loosing confidence in their ability to capture the animal and began to examine their options.

“I guess I should call the owner,” the girl concluded, “but she doesn’t have a car.”

“This pig isn’t yours?” my wife responded incredulously.

“No, it belongs to a friend and I promised to bring it to UC San Diego for her brother. How do I get myself into these things?” she repeated.

This good Samaritan story had gone terribly wrong, but my wife began to see a way to extract herself.

“Call your friend,” she commanded, “and I’ll go pick her up.”

Suspicious at my wife’s generosity, she asked, “You’d do that?”

“In a heartbeat,” my wife thought as she forced a courteous, “Certainly.”

Moments later, my wife returned with the friend and quickly accepted the girl’s dismissive assurances they would be fine.

I try to conclude my columns with a spiritual point, but the only pig-related Bible story I know is about a demon-possessed herd running off a cliff as their owners tried to retrieve them. And, as demon-possessed as the girl’s pig may have seemed, it would be forcing a point to parallel that story.

However, one point might be made. Despite the somber remembrances of this week, we need to hold onto the God-given ability to laugh. As we trust the healing process, our hearts will heal and we will be able to celebrate those moments in life that reflect the divine smile placed in us all.