Gratitude, shock and awe...

Sometimes all you can do is acknowledge your gratitude amidst the shock and awe of real life. Yesterday - after a full and demanding week back at church - Dianne and I pulled out of town for a family wedding. Like much of the rest of this summer, the weather was shitty: rain, rain and more rain. And humid: OMG! So, we took the truck because it has AC.

We were both tired and the road was slick and the rain was insistent but we were in a good mood because Di's niece was getting married. We were going to a party - after the sadness and tough times the family has been through this spring and summer a celebration was in order - so we were looking forward to the day. And then, without warning or any real reason, our truck was being hurled across the highway and I was unable to stop it.

I guess we were hydroplaning - or hit a patch of slick road - but I had no control over the truck and we were headed for a ditch, a road sign or... a parked police car. Just ahead of us not only had a tractor trailer just jack knifed and rolled over - hence the parked squad car - but another small passenger car had skidded off the road, hit the guard rail and found itself spun around in the ditch.

Time seemed to stop - maybe you know what that is like - and life was in slow motion. There was no control over the truck, life seemed to be passing me by AND I understood that the truck was moving at 50 mph and people were likely to die. I remembering praying, "Lord, I am in your hands." Apparently I said in a terrified voice, "Dianne... DIANNE!" (she told me later it was the most frightening sound she had ever heard.) And then we were off the road - somehow missing the the guard rail, the road signs and the police car - ending up in a small patch off grass about 100 feet off the road.

The car was stopped, we were both alright and everything seemed frozen in place. I turned the car off, looked at Dianne and stepped into the blistering rain. The police officer motioned me to get back in the car so I started it and tried to get up the hill. The mud was too much so we looked at one another again. Out of nowhere the officer was now standing beside my window telling me to wait for the tow truck - which had just arrived for the other car - and he would get us out. Thirty minutes later we were back on the side of the road with no damage to anyone or anything - but totally dazed and confused.

We spoke with the cop a little after that: he was as scared and in shock as we were but all was well. So we shook hands and headed off after paying the young man for the tow truck. Getting off at the next exit, we sat in the truck and then used the facilities to dry off. Only then did the magnitude of what had just happened hit me and I couldn't speak or really even think: we were alive. No one - no one - was hurt - what's more the truck was just fine, too.

I am still in shock and awe at how lucky and blessed we were - and are - and have been. I don't pretend to understand these things but am coming to terms with how much grace there is in my life. And while I can't speak for others once again I have a palpable sense that ALL of this thing we call life and death is a sweet but incomprehensible gift. I won't try to explain the tragedies of life here - some make sense and others seem cruel and all of them hurt - I just know we did not suffer and I am grateful.

Oh yeah... after a cup of tea and some roadside tears, we eventually made it to the wedding, too. It was a privilege to be part of this GREAT feast and celebration. Today we got back on the road early and are back home exhausted, humbled and alive. We give thanks to God.

Oh yeah... concerning our near disaster on the road...

+ I am NOT discounting oil on the road, physics, an unusual amount of rain, wear and tear on the car and all the rest...

+ Nor am I saying that lots of practice and commitment to defensive driving was not a part of the picture either...

+ and I am certainly NOT saying that for some unique reason the God of all creation reached down to spare Dianne and myself but not others...

My spirituality is neither that cruel or superstitious. ALL I am saying is that I am grateful to have not experienced more than the scare of my life and I am grateful to God that Dianne and I have more time on earth to share love and compassion.

Like Bill Coffin once said about the tragic loss of his son to an automobile accident and alcohol: all I know for certain is that God was WITH me (and my son) in that moment - in the fear and the rejoicing and the loss - and I am content to know it.

Comments

SGF said…
I am so grateful you are both safe and sound...selfishly you both mean a great deal to me and I thank god for your safety and your presence in my life!!!!!
RJ said…
right back at ya, my man... right back at ya
rbarenblat said…
I am so glad to know that you are all right!
Black Pete said…
Who can know the mind of God? You are alive and well--that's all that matters. I thank, God, too, RJ.
RJ said…
thanks you guys... all is well and exceedingly well.

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