On October 7, a car ran a stop light, turned left, and struck me while I was walking across a crosswalk in my neighborhood. It struck my right side with my left crashing to the pavement. Witnesses corroborated what I thought at the time - that the car was going about 20mph and turned left on red.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, only 5% of accidents involving a car striking a pedestrian at 20mph are fatal. This number jumps to about 50% if the vehicle is traveling at 30mph. At 40mph, the fatality rate is 95%.
On the evening of October 7, I was walking with someone to dinner. Out of the corner of our eyes, we saw a headlight and the corner of a bumper turning in to us. I was closest to the incoming car and put out a hand as it reached my side. It didn't stop. The driver hit the brakes after striking me.
The significant thing about this event isn't the accident itself. A good person made a bad driving error that sent me to the emergency room in the back of an ambulance. There is nothing unusual or remarkable about this. Accidents happen all the time. What is remarkable is the overwhelming grace that I have experienced since that bumper contacted my side.
The man driving the car apologized at the scene. Bystanders quickly called 911. The police officer who arrived at the scene was kind and calm. The fire and EMS teams were kind, calm, and full of good humor. I happened to be wearing my favorite pair of jeans. As I lay on the asphalt and they pulled out a C-collar, they jokingly asked if I minded if they cut my pants leg to inspect my leg injury. When I paused before answering (they were my favorite pair of jeans, after all), the EMT laughed and simply said, "I have to cut them." They were very gentle putting me on the backboard and they overwhelmed me with their kindness all the way to the hospital.
The hospital staff allowed me to be quite the baby. They played "What's My Line" with me to keep me distracted (no one guessed that I am clergy). The radiology technicians were very careful with me, fully aware that what they had to do was very painful for me. All of the nurses, doctors, and technicians were kind. After I was released from the hospital, my blood pressure went down and the same guys who scraped me off the pavement showed up at my door. We had a lovely reunion.
A friend came to the hospital and stayed the whole time; she even took me to an all night pharmacy after I was released from the hospital. A couple of days later, she made and brought dinner to me.
Another couple of friends helped with crutches. And yet more friends have made me dinner, driven me to doctors' appointments, sent flowers, and taken me to lunch. Even my selfish cats seem to know that something isn't quite right.
A clergy colleague stepped in and led services for me on October 9.
In July I moved to a new church. Here it is in October and I am not very available to them, but they have been remarkably gracious. They encouraged me to take the week off of work. People volunteered to come in to the church and help out as needed. The congregation sent me a card. A couple in the church sent flowers. The church has been very flexible with rescheduling meetings. I have experienced the power of our baptismal covenant at work this week.
These have not been an easy twelve days, but they have been holy days. As our country fights partisan wars, as the OWS people stand up to government corruption and corporate greed, and as only bad news seems to be reported in the media, this past week and a half I have been reminders of the goodness in the world.
If that car had hit me even slightly differently, I very well might not be able to type this post. I am very lucky that, despite my injuries, I am able to be up and about. I even led worship this past Sunday (with the help of another pastor who presided over Holy Communion). I am very aware of the combination of sheer luck and grace at work in my life.
I am being tended by caring and kind medical professionals. I am being loved by wonderful friends, family, and congregation members. I am being supported and prayed for by colleagues. Grace is everywhere.
In response to the grace that I have and am still receiving, I am very grateful. Thank you to all who extended concern and care to me. Thank you for being patient with me - with my forgetfulness, immobility, fatigue, and periodic grumpiness. Thank you for reminding me that community still exists in our world. Thank you for your witness for kindness and simple care.
I feel like I was hit by a car...and I was. But, I also feel like I have been embraced by God...and I was. This, I hope, is not only a lesson for me but for all who read this.
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