In the Blink of an Eye
October 5, 3013
I remember when my family were members of Holy Nativity Episcopal Church in Panama City and our priest was Father Bob Battin. What a delightful, faith filled man he was and what wonderful sermons he wove into our hearts each Sunday. At the end of his sermons he asked God the words to the same prayer which I no longer remember, but in the prayer was the phrase, "and Lord make us aware daily of the shortness and uncertainty of life.....". I often remember that phrases when I am shocked by the loss of someone whom I "never suspected" was facing the end of his/her life. You can almost smell the sent of the candle after the flame is snuffed out and all that is left is an ever fading trail of grey smoke and a memory of the flame.
Yesterday, Bill and I had finished a normal, routine visit with our family doctor and were on our way to North Myrtle Beach for a treat of cheeseburgers and a fresh salad at Steak "n" Shake. Okay I admit it, the doctor mentioned that we could chunk off a few pounds to be healthier so instead of ordering a milkshake and fries to go with our burgers, we ordered a fresh salad, which I admit, was delicious.
I lost my train of thought there and must go back to our travels to the restaurant. We were caught up in busy traffic on business 17 near one of our tourist attractions, Broadway at the Beach when traffic came to a complete halt. Oh No! I thought, this has to be a wreck. It took fifteen minutes of crawling two miles an hour to see what had us in this snarled mess of traffic. We quickly assessed that one SUV had rolled and was now windowless and driver doorless with the roof smashed, but not cave in completely. And then we saw a head light, a piece of chrome, a motorcycle seat and the sheet covering a body. My heart sank. As we were directed to drive on, Bill told me how difficult being a policeman can be when you arrive at scenes like this and he tried to run what he had just seen through his mind to determine what could have caused such a horrific scene.
We went on to dinner and caught ourselves thinking of the person who had been on the motorcycle We finally had to promise to "let it go" so we could eat a meal and try to refocus on what we needed to do.
Once we returned home, Bill asked me to google for any information that might give us a clue. I found a report stating that local law enforcement were asking anyone who saw the wreck to report in to help them complete their report. The man on the motorcycle had been killed and his passenger, a female, was in critical care in ICU.
Oh no! I thought! I remember two dozen years back when my husband and I had a motorcycle and loved riding country highways and out to the beach. One day, Allison, who was maybe, 14, told us she did not want both of her parents on that motorcycle at the same time. I reassured her that we would be fine, but now, I saw how ridiculous a promise that can be. We cannot promise anything. We live our lives today in each moment we are given.
I prayed for this man whom I did not know and his passenger and could not help but wonder if it was a dad and mother. The man, we learned today, was from Virginia down in Myrtle Beach to enjoy the fall Bike Rally and to have fun. He was only 43 years old and now his life is over. His passenger was the lady he was dating, most likely a mom and her family, I am certain was driving down her last night to hold a vigil by her bed in the hospital.
Life is real. It is not a fairy tale. As Father Bob once told us, the life of a Christian is like the beauty of a rose bush. We reflect God's love from within us and others cannot help but see that gentle beauty but we have to grow within the thorns. We face the same hardships, dangers and losses. We face immeasureable grief and face all the challenges others face. Finally, our lives are truly in God's hands. We have no crystal ball. We have no calendar marked with the day we will die. We must, in our love for this life God gave us, remember to be aware daily of the shortness and uncertainty of life. There should never be a cry of "why me?" but "why not me?". After all, I am one of God's creations and while I live on Earth no matter how strong my faith, I will face adversity for adversity is written into this book of life. What is not written is how we choose to live and how we choose to get through adversity.
Some of the people in traffic yesterday were furious. They were impatient and angry for being slowed down from whatever they were doing as if accidents and traffic are not something we can predict will happen in our life. They had no reaction to seeing the devastation on the highway and the person who had lost their life. Others, like myself, felt the loss of a human being who had no knowledge that in the blink of an eye, through no fault of his own, his life was ended at 43.
I am still thinking about him, the love of his life who fights in a local hospital to survive and their families far from home who are grieving and praying and feeling so lost. We are compelled while on this earth to reach out through prayer and acts of kindness when we see others in need.
For the truth is, we know not the day or the hour that our God will call us home. All we know for certain is that life is uncertain and life as we know it can be over in the blink of an eye.
Dear Heavenly Father,
My heart is troubled for those who have lost a beloved father, friend, brother and son. I wonder how many others are dealing with grief today and ask you to do what I cannot. Please comfort all those who mourn and grieve. Please deliver a peace which passes our human understanding but cradles them when they cannot sleep. Please Lord, draw those who are broken hearted close to your heart so theirs will mend. Do what I cannot, Lord. And for those who have been blessed with a beautiful day, remind us to tell those we love how we feel and to make us aware daily of the shortness and uncertainty of life.
In the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,