Monday, March 7, 2011

Gratitude and God

Yesterday morning I drove form my home to Sayre PA to participate in an East Central District (DOC) pulpit exchange. The trip was about an hour and 15 minutes, and it poured all the way. I left home early enough to arrive at the church after making a stop or two to pick up cat food.

I arrived at church and sat through an enjoyable service - my preaching was toward the very end of the worship service. While we sat and listened to music and prayed and communed, the rain changed to the promised snow, coming down as though still rain and making the roads snow-packed, but passable, in short order.

As I drove out of the church parking lot, I asked one family if it would be wiser for me to go home through New York and was told that Pennsylvania Route 6 should still be easily passable at this time in the storm. After driving south on PA Route 220 I turned west onto Route 6 still 40-some miles from home. Still in snow that fell at the rate of about an inch an hour. Roads quickly were snow-packed with no plows out yet.

Early on Route 6, I passed a van that had gone off the road while going west (my side) and seemingly had knocked down an electric pole. Another car had stopped, so I continued going home, aware that the roads must be quite icy for this vehicle - much larger than mine - to end up in a ditch. I kept my speed at about 30, using gears rather than brakes to slow me down when I needed to be traveling slower. There was not much traffic out, but I did not expect much on Sunday morning at 11:30.

When still 35 miles from home, I drove up a hill preparing to go around a curve and down the hill when a car, already around the curve, pulled abreast of me and I could barely see the driver turn on the car lights. I thought I should slow down, perhaps there were deer on the road and I wanted to be going slow enough not to have to use my brakes (I am a Colorado driver and I don’t stop going up a hill or jam on brakes going down). Even as I write this, I get shivers.

As I rounded the curve and started my descent a large pickup - the kind of pickup with four wheels in the back - flipped over and rolled several times, landing on its side. All that went through my mind was that had I not seen that car, had I not slowed down, had I had to jam on brakes to stop, I would have been under that truck when it landed. I stopped, shaken, and saw a pickup that was immediately behind the flipped vehicle empty itself of about six men all dressed in gas-company-red overalls. They ran over to the flipped truck, and helped one man get out.

As I had nothing to offer that was not already available, I did not stay in that place where cars behind me would have crashed into me, but continued on my way. Shaken, I was filled with gratitude and prayers of thanks to God that I was not the vehicle under the one that crashed, and that the one man I saw emerge from the vehicle was apparently unhurt.

Shaken and overwhelmingly thankful, I continued my journey and flashed my lights at all on-coming cars to alert them of the accident, until I was far enough away that flashing would be unproductive.

As I continued west toward home, I saw yet another vehicle off the road, with help already there. Much closer to home, twice I met emergency vehicles with flashing lights probably on the way to help others on the snowy roads, since the vehicles I had passed were too far from Wellsboro to receive help from our borough emergency vehicles.

This snow, the most we have had at one time this year (measuring 16 inches on my back deck) has slowed us all down, and I think has given us yet one more way to help those who are in some kind of need. Out shoveling this morning, I learned that the mystery person who plows my drive, had done so before I tried to shovel a path toward the garage or shovel the walk for our mail carrier who will come later today.

In some way to repay the kindness of the man plowing and many other kindnesses, I look for ways to offer assistance to others. I cannot always help, but I see that many others also make the effort to help. We are community to one another on good days but especially on the more difficult days. We may not all be a Christian community, we may not all think of God, but we do think of “other” and that is a Godly thing.

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