On the morning of Tuesday, May 26, my friend, Ronnie Johnson, our head custodian at Trinity United Methodist Church, was helping me load bags of groceries. We placed the groceries in the bed of the church’s pickup truck.
Collecting food for local Richmond area food banks has become a regular Friday event for our church since COVID-19 started misbehaving.
At some point, Ronnie and I realized we were going to need a second truck to load in all of the 142 bags of groceries. So Ronnie walked around to the back parking lot and drove his pickup around front for loading.
While he was gone, I witnessed something frightening on Forest Avenue in front of the church.
Forest Avenue is a busy two-lane road that carries lots of traffic from Patterson Avenue to River Road everyday.
I saw the driver of a small SUV pull out from behind the car that the driver was following. The driver drove the car across the double yellow no passing line. Pulled into the on-coming traffic lane, and accelerated well beyond the posted speed limit of 35 mph.
I couldn’t believe it.
But, I’m not surprised, myself included, we have become a very impatient society at times.
I witnessed another example of how impatient we have become on my way back from dropping off the food at Feedmore.
In the city of Richmond on Hermitage Road just past Ownby, and before Leigh Street, motorist cross a double set of railroad tracks.
As I came to this intersection, the mechanical arms were down blocking the railroad tracks, and their red warning lights were flashing. No cars on either side of Hermitage Road were moving. We were all waiting for a train to pass through.
I was in the right lane waiting patiently excited like a kid for a train to come rambling by.
I had probably been there no more than a minute when I noticed the driver of a car in the left lane started to back up. There was enough room for the driver to move the car on to the other side of Hermitage and escape.
Then the driver behind the first impatient escapee did the same.
And then a few seconds later, something hilarious happened. I laughed out loud.
The mechanical arms on both sides of Hermitage Road rose up, went to their upright positions, and their red lights stopped flashing. No train had come through the intersection nor was one in sight. I wondered how the two escapees fared after leaving this short-lived railroad crossing blockade?
On Wednesday afternoon, I rode with my wife to COSTCO, I was in search for some supplies for the church.
When we had finished our shopping, we were stopped at the intersection of West Broad and Springfield Road. Just as soon as the light turned green, an impatient beep of the horn from the car behind us annoyed our ears.
I recall a handful of times when I have been at a stoplight intersection. The light changes green. As I begin to inch out, a car comes barreling through that intersection having run the red light. I think what might have happened if I had accelerated faster into that no man’s land. I imagine there would have been a life altering kaboom.
No matter where we reside, in the 24 hours of a day, a person in a blink can have his/her life changed forever with a car accident.
Earlier in May, I read a post on Facebook about a former Lakeside Elementary School student named Ryan. With this post, there was a handsome picture of Ryan in his Coast Guard dress uniform. And then, I began to read the sad words.
Ryan who was only 24 years old had been killed in a driving accident.
I scrolled down further and learned from a friend who had spoken with Ryan’s sister what had occurred.
Ryan, somewhere in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida was riding his motorcycle. A mother was in an “I’m in a hurry mode.” She was rushing to get her daughter to a piano lesson. Her focus on arriving at that piano lesson prohibited the mother from seeing Ryan on his motorcycle.
The impact from the collision caused severe trauma to Ryan’s head and chest. He did not survive.
I am guilty of being an impatient rusher of life at times. I think we all have those moments.
But, we never know how that impatient rush might change the course of our lives and the lives of others forever.
I imagine that the driver of the car that took Ryan’s life will relive this tragedy for a long, long, long time.
And, I also assume that the driver will always, always ask these questions— why didn’t I stop the rushing, why didn’t I just slow down, why didn’t I leave earlier?
Ryan’s family will ask lots of questions too. That’s the way a sad tragedy works.
That Coast Guard photo of Ryan, shows a clear-eyed man, impeccably neat, crisply clean in his military attire, with the presence of a youthful maturity.
The passing of a loved one, no matter the circumstances, always reveals the unfairness of life when a person is so young. We all know that 24 is way to early to jump into the blue yonder.
Tex Stanton was one of the Marines who James Bradley interviewed for his book, Flags of Our Fathers. Mr. Stanton was lucky. He survived the 36 days it took to secure the Japanese island, Iwo Jima, during World War II.
That challenging survival revealed this reflection from Mr. Stanton: “Life was never regular again, we were changed from the moment we put our feet in the sand.”
Tragic automobile accidents have the same impact.
Psalm 147 verse 3 states: “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
I’m not sure if time heals broken hearts and heals the wounds of a loss.
But, I do know that a handful of times in my life, I have been comforted by the words in Psalm 147.
And through those words, miraculously, people were around me in my time of need. With willing hearts, they were patiently present ready to bind me and to help me heal.
Impatient? We are all impatient.
Rush? We all rush.
Easing back, letting up, pausing, slowing down?
I must improve.
Early morning quiet along Forest Avenue.