A Place to Stand

I have been a member of North Carolina Yearly Meeting conservative for over twenty years. I am currently the clerk of our small Monthly Meeting. I am a recorded elder and presently serve as the Recording Clerk of our Yearly Meeting's Ministers, Elders and Overseers. My name has been put forward to be the next clerk of North Carolina Yearly Meeting Conservative. By trade I am a philosophy professor.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Not an Accident

We were on our way back from a family gathering up in Virginia. My brother had driven down from Maine with two of his children to visit his oldest daughter, Julie, and see her new baby. Our two boys had never met their uncle or their cousins so this seemed like a good time for it. It was about 5:00 PM of New Year’s Eve and we hoped to be back in Greenville before it got too dark. My wife was driving and I was considering setting my priorities for the coming year. My name has been put forward to be the next clerk of the Yearly Meeting and this involves finding time to visit each of the monthly meetings within the Yearly Meeting some time before our annual session in July. I also have some major projects going on at work and last year I began doing some major and minor repairs around the house and these aren’t quite finished. Lately I’ve found myself too busy for regular exercise and I know that’s not something I should allow to slide. In thinking of all this it was becoming clear to me that I couldn’t do a good job at all these things and I was going to have to decide what to do and what not to do. But it was also clear to me that this wasn’t something I could be totally rational about. Whether some of these projects could go forward or not was going to depend on what other people decided and that wasn’t under my control. So with my eyes half closed I settled into turning all this over to God and asking him to take over and direct me into which of these projects I should put first and which I should let go of. It was very much like sitting in Meeting for worship turning over my personal issues to God. I had just reached the point of turning it over when it happened.

My wife had put on the blinker to change lanes and was moving over to the center lane when another car came flying up from the far right lane at a very high rate of speed and cut into the center lane without warning. My wife swerved sharply back to the left to avoid the collision. She lost control of the car when a tire blew out and the car began to spin. It did two complete 360’s through three lanes of heavy traffic moving at 70 mph until we landed on the right shoulder. The cars behind us stopped and we determined that everyone was OK. The car that caused the accident sped off. Amazingly, we did not hit the concrete median or the guardrail or any other car. We had one tire still intact but the other tires and rims were shredded. We were able to call some old Friend/friends who now live in Richmond and they cancelled their New Year’s Eve plans and put us up for the night. The expenses of fixing up the car are going to put a big dent into the family budget. In fact we are going to have to dip into the savings to pay for this but ever since the car stopped I’ve been feeling incredibly thankful that all the people involved are fine. I won’t forget the State trooper grinning and saying, “Technically, since you didn’t hit anything and no vehicle hit you, this wasn’t a traffic accident. It was a traffic incident.” Still, it was one heck of an incident.

So what does it mean? I don’t think that the timing of this is a coincidence. In my experience putting yourself completely in God’s hands leads to events that shake up your life. Sometimes these events are painful and sometimes they are just scary, but the end result is spiritual growth. For reasons that I don’t understand people seem to need events like this to shake them up to allow them to grow. God understands all this and arranges for what we really need when we open ourselves up to allowing him to do whatever he chooses. I’m still not clear about what my priorities are going to be for the coming year. I’ll be looking for Way to open on some of these things and for Way to close on others. I’m clear about not needing to be in charge of the course of events.

11 Comments:

Blogger Contemplative Scholar said...

Wow, I am so glad that all of you are all right! How amazing that nothing worse happened!

Best wishes on your processing of this and on your discernment!

2:52 PM  
Blogger Liz Opp said...

WoW.

You are in my thoughts, my fFriends.

So is the driver of the other car.

. . . . . . . . .

On the topic of the opportunity to serve, I appreciate reading that preparation to serve as clerk of the yearly meeting includes being intentional about visiting each of the monthly meetings. My, how I would love to see that sort of intentionality and intervisitation in my own yearly meeting here.

I'm sure you will have a number of opportunities to reflect and test and discern with other Friends. I'll be carrying you and your process in my heart as well.

Blessings,
Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up

7:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been uttering random prayers of thanksgiving ever since I turned the engine off.

mary M

7:22 PM  
Blogger Martin Kelley said...

Yikes! I'm grateful to hear everyone's alright but that sounds like one heck of an incident!

11:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Friend--what a terrifying experience with an amazingly blessed ending. I was moved by your post, in part because I have struggled my whole life with this concept of "turning things over to God." It has always felt risky and scary to me--odd as that sounds. Thinking about the prioritizing you face and your desire to sort out what to let go for now, I have to wonder if the wonderful miracle (really) of your family surviving this incident intact isn't a clear sign of focus on the family . . . cherishing what has been preserved for you.

Happy, happy New Year, Friend.

5:55 AM  
Blogger Mark Wutka said...

Richard,
I'm so thankful that no one was hurt! I keep thinking of how when you look at various stories in the bible at a different level, they frequently relate to our relationship with God. Maybe sometime in the future, you will look back and find that this incident is a similar story. That at some point you went through a period of being out of control and spinning around, but God brought you and your family through safely. Maybe that time hasn't come yet, and this incident will serve as a source of strength.
With love,
Mark

8:30 AM  
Blogger RichardM said...

Liz, I have given some thought to the other driver. This is an opportunity for self-observation and I am pleased to find that I do not harbor any anger towards him/her. I'm pretty sure that's because no one was hurt. I wonder if they looked in their rear view mirror and saw the commotion they had caused. What are they feeling right now?

Everyone, Thanks for your concern for us. I have processed this a little more at meeting this morning and what came to me was that I should be thankful. There is a natural tendency to give thanks after a narrow escape like this and I should use this as an opportunity to cultivate a more thankful attitude towards life over the long haul. This is a change I should make in my life. Also an event like this puts our ordinary concerns in a bigger perspective. I'm a type A personality who likes to be efficient and get things done and who feels that people are relying on me to make things work. From my perspective I was asking God for help in doing all these things which I see as important but this now strikes me as too worldly. The experience gives me the sense that these things aren't really so important after all. Not that I should stop working, but my attitude towards these duties needs to be lighter. I'll do what I can do but ultimately the results are in God's hands.

9:54 AM  
Blogger Laurie Kruczek said...

Friend Richard,

You are safe and your family is safe. God made sure to that. His call is for your service to Him. You resigned yourself and He lifted you up. This is all I can decipher from it.

I am so glad to hear no one was hurt.

Laurie

9:44 AM  
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