Accident PronePosted: October 28, 2009
I got rear-ended last week. I’m fine, the car is fine, the other driver is fine, the other driver’s car is not fine. The hood and front grille of her dark blue mini-van got mashed in. My Honda CR-V has an exterior spare tire which acted like a giant bumper (whatever happened to rubber bumpers on cars anyway?).
Not that I’m laying blame but the accident was completely her fault. She admitted she wasn’t paying attention. Okay, I’m laying blame. I was leaving a popular shopping area – the Derby Street Shoppes in Hingham – where I had just left a Panera restaurant. I had brought communion to a woman in a nearby nursing home and stopped into Panera to work on my sermon and grab a bowl of soup.
I was stopped at a stop sign waiting to merge into traffic to head back to church when…Bam! The woman jumped out of her car apologizing for her negligence. I have no idea whether she was on her phone or texting but one can make a reasonablypositive assumption. I also don’t know what she thought when she encountered a priest wearing his clericals but if it made her feel a tad guiltier, fine.
I’m sharing this because it’s a good reminder that things in life don’t always go as planned. You can do everything right and still get blindsided. Just as you can be completely reckless and glide right through certain situations unscathed. The reality is that I could have just as easily been on the other end of this accident. I’ve answered tmy cell phone in the car even though I know I shouldn’t. Why? Ego, I guess. Or at least a feeling of self-importance and over-confidence.
And so it’s helpful to remember that we’re not in complete control of our lives. Not because of fate or chance but because God’s realm operates on a plane beyond human comprehension. That doesn’t mean God toys with us like a toddler playing with matchbox cars: “I think I’ll have this blue one smash into this red one. That seems like fun.” But it means we can make all the detailed plans we want – I’ll go to law school and get married and have three children and die in my sleep at the age of 102 – they just may not work out that way. The bar exam gets flunked, our spouse gets cancer, our sperm count is too low to have kids, and we’re dead of a heart attack at 52. Hopefully it’s not that extreme but the more we tell God our plans, rather than the other way around, the more we set ourselves up for disappointment.
All of which is to say that a minor traffic accident can point out some larger life lessons. And anyway, as the saying goes: “Sometimes you’re the windshield; sometimes you’re the bug.”