I was driving my son to a birthday party around noon on Saturday. We weren’t on a backroad but we were on one of those old country roads filled with lots of hills, wide turns, and beautiful views. There are many like that here in West Virginia.
As we were popping over one of those hills, I could see some commotion in the distance. The left lane looked like it was slow moving and I saw flashing lights, although my side, the right side, was moving right along. I anticipated an accident to be the culprit but as I crested yet another hill it became clear. It was a funeral procession. The flashing lights were coming from the hearse that led what seemed like thirty cars, who also had their lights on to further signal that they were a part of the procession.
And my side. The right side. Well, the ten or fifteen cars in front of me just kept on driving. Not even slowing down. But I knew what I was going to do. I was going to stop for the dead. I just wished I wasn’t going to be the only one.
And perhaps I wouldn’t have been the only one, had I not known what it was to be in that line. Second from the front. Watching the world pass me by, busy with its day, as I sat silent and waiting. Waiting for someone else to know what I knew. That the world had ended that day. The sun had fallen from the sky. That creation itself had cracked wide open revealing an awful truth. Those we love and hold dear, leave us. They get carted off and buried, deserting us on some foreign planet that we now find ourselves. Where time stands still but only for the grieving.
And pulling over to the side of the road is really just one neighbor saying to the other you deserve a moment. Just one, solitary moment, where we in communal understanding of the preciousness of life and loss acknowledge that something sacred has taken place within our town. A soul has departed and it dealt a crushing blow. The walking wounded around us, bruised and battered in their innermost being, deserve some nod of the head. They deserve for the world to stop…for a moment. Or at least for those who have been honored to witness the beautiful yet heart-wrenching trail of mourners who accompany the dead to their burial plot, to give a collective salute.
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Romans 12:15
What sacred rituals do we have left that tie us to one another? Don’t be willing to let this one go.
Allow that moment to bring your world to a stop as well, for just a moment. Think about the fragility of life and how it all goes by way too fast whether you are allowed nine minutes or ninety-nine years. Allow yourself to feel the finality and awesomeness of this gift called life. Recognize that we will all be in those shoes. And let that reality propel you forward in your journey. There is no time to be wasted.
Soak it all in. Every smile. Every tear. Every laugh. Every breath. It will all come to an end. So, while you’re sitting there on the side of the road, contemplate eternity. What do you know of God, your creator? What has He purposed for you? Let this time remind you that you were designed for a reason. That there’s more to it than just the waking every morning and the laying down every night, but that we all too often make it more complicated than it was meant to be.
And make promises to yourself that you will keep growing, deeper and deeper, in finding out just who it is that called you into being.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13
And when you pull back onto the road, you’ll feel a sense of community, whether you’re from that town or not, because we’re all a part of a much larger community. One that was fashioned by the hand of God, birthed out of love and held together by both.