"... they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland….But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city."
A in Ardmore, Ireland, home of St. Declan. We prayed for these folk as we passed by them.
Last week we were on our way to an early appointment when traffic began to get very slow. Even in the carpool lane. I was annoyed. I was sure that there were whole bunches of carpool-lane-jumpers jamming up my lane. As I sat there fuming it occurred to me it could be an accident. Better pray. “Kids, say a prayer there may be an accident ahead”. I am not sure they heard me.
Then I noticed the other side of the freeway was empty. Totally and completely empty. Now I was sure this was a very bad accident, or something worse, and it just happened. My mind went back to the clock, my appointment, would we make it? I fretted and prayed (both for our schedule to not be ruffled and for whomever was ahead and might need prayer.) An ambulance went by on our side. I could see some flashing lights ahead.
As we crawled along I began to try and get over towards my exit. One mile to go. How long would this take me? Still no traffic in the opposite direction. Then things began to free up a little and I saw it on the other side. Lots of police cars. Yellow police tape.
This didn’t look like an accident, this was something different. A police action of some kind. Too late to looky-loo, off my exit and only five minutes late for my appointment.
A half hour later the traffic on the streets warned me not to try and get home right now. There aren’t many non-freeway choices in this area and they are all one lane each way. So, we trashed our schedule for the day and went to hang out at a nearby Barnes and Noble. With snack in hand I checked the iPad for news of the accident.
That was when I learned that a police officer had been shot. He and the man who shot him were both in critical condition and the freeway was closed in both directions, indefinitely. We settled into wasting time at B&N, walking around town, and having lunch out. A major inconvenience turned into a nice day.
Finally, we took the LONG way home and arrived about 4 hours after we originally had planned to get home. Inconvenience over....for us. Many were still stuck in traffic.
And, as we learned later that night, one wife and her four children were mourning the death of their policeman husband and father.
As I struggled with being late and annoying traffic, a man was meeting his maker.
A week later we were in that town again and entering the freeway near the spot where he was shot. A news report at that moment told us of a memorial for the police officer that morning in a nearby town. Seconds later we passed the road-side display of flags, flowers and crosses in his honor. As we sped by the spot I began to tear up. I felt connected to this man and his family. I was there. I wasn’t aware at the time of what was going on, but I was on that freeway, caught in the consequences of the act that led to his death. Forever connected.
Was it by design? Was I there to offer prayers at the moment of his death? It reminded me of 9/11. That day, eleven years ago, I was walking into early Mass, pregnant with my first born, having just heard that the second plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. It occurred to me that at that very moment people were dying. Souls were facing the ultimate interview. And I prayed for them, in front of the God that they would face.
Sometimes it feels as if we are anonymous in this world, except to the few family and friends with whom we have contact. But in eternity we are all connected. We all depend upon each other. Kenyon Youngstrom. The Victims of 9/11. A college friend, John Leal, who died just after college. Mrs Slingsby, a classmate’s mother in elementary school These are some of the names that come to mind when we are asked at Mass to pray for those that have died. Souls forever connected to me via life’s experiences...little and big.
May these souls, and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace. May their friends and family find peace and healing in our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. Join Ten Minute Tuesday at Testosterhome.