No brakes available

Life happens quick.

Just ask the massive pine tree that crashed across Westham Parkway on Friday, February 7, 2020. Or, the large oak on Stuart Hall Road who tumbled from a neighbor’s side yard into the edge of the road.

These crashes were the result of a cantankerous storm system that disrupted lives in many parts of America. This collision of air pressures and temperature changes in the upper atmospheres only reinforced for me the reckless strength of nature.

One of the beauties of our seasoned neighborhood is our trees. I love their spring green canopy, the stunning colors of fall leaves, and the stark bare beauty of their structure in the gray shades of winter. 

But, in a blink, and in most instances with no warning, a tree can take a dive, and when that fall starts—there are no brakes available. Trees in Rollingwood and Westham have destroyed cars, crashed into houses, scarred the landscape, and amazingly, knock on wood, not taken a life.

Life happens quick for human beings too, and so do unpredictable falls.

On Saturday, February 1, my wife, the Commander Supreme, and I were at a neighbor’s home for their annual day before the Super Bowl party. We had just arrived.

I was in the neighbor’s den pouring the Commander a glass of wine. I heard this terrible crash. I took a couple of steps to my left toward the stairwell landing that connected the living room to the den, and there sprawled across the landing was my Commander.

There was a quick scurry to assist her, to get her upright, an ice pack appeared, as she tried to assess her health and what had caused the fall.

The Commander did not see a slightly raised dog gate just above the landing. Her foot failed to clear this obstacle—kaboom!

Injury wise, no wrists, ribs, or shoulders were damaged—it was her forehead. At the top of the forehead near her hairline, some skin about the size of a nickel was missing. But, on her forehead above her right eye a bump the size of an ostrich egg was rapidly forming.

With her wits slowly returning and our neighbors feeling horrible, we made the short walk home.

Appears that the Commander’s forehead took the brunt of the fall when she landed against the doorway trim. The doctored ruled out a concussion, but from Sunday through the end of the week both eyes turned black. 

In 44 years of marriage, we have lived through many ups and downs, but this fall emotionally took a toll on the Commander. I gently reminded her the outcome could have been worse. She agreed. But, her spirits were down.

Life happens quick, no brakes were available, gravity won its pull.

For a number of years, a small group of retired gentlemen show up twice a month on Mondays to do chores around our church building and grounds. This is a talented, team oriented, jovial group. Their work makes a difference.

On Monday, February 10, a team of three showed up. We were starting to clear out an overpacked storage room up on the second floor. Churches are good at hanging on to cherished, but unused items that date back to Methuselah. Just in case you are wondering, Biblical references state he lived to the very ripe old age of 969. Some of this junk in storage was that old.

For this crew, I was sorting out items to be disposed. They were working to get the throw away items down to the church’s pick up truck.  Hand trucks and the church elevator were being used to assist this transition.

Bill and Tom were working to carry a load down the exterior steps on the Stuart Hall Road side of the Sanctuary. For some reason with a full load, Tom missed the last step. Life happens quick, no brakes available, Tom face planted on the unloving brick sidewalk.

The rescue squad transported him to the hospital. Tom and his wife spent the remainder of the afternoon and early evening in the emergency room. After numerous scans there was no concussion. But, he left with a neck collar related to a couple of vertebrae, and 30 stitches to close up the collision with the brick sidewalk.

Life happens quick. No brakes available.

I still feel horrible for Tom and his wife. 

He was there per my request and planning. This was our first significant injury to a volunteer from all of the projects we have done. I would have preferred the injury been to me rather than my friend who always puts his heart into any chore.

The same goes for the Commander. I wish her fall had been mine.

Life does happen quick. When a fall starts, there are no brakes to slam. No magic hands appear to grab or catch.

The magic hands appear after the fall. 

Those hands are full of love, care, and concern. They are driven by compassionate hearts who over time will bring gradual healing and a restoring of confidence. 

Those hands and hearts are the work of prayer.

God can’t catch us in every fall. But, I think God brakes for the recovery. That is why the hands and hearts show up.

Without them, I’m not sure there would be healing.

Thanks be to those hands and hearts sent by God.

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