Sunday, November 22, 2009

God, Life, and Everything - Deer Hit

I write a biweekly column called "God, Life, and Everything" for the Hudson Valley News. The title reflects the broad scope I want to take. Everything in life falls under the eye of God, and if we watch carefully, we can catch a glimpse of God in it all.

November hasn’t been my month for machines.  Early in the month my laptop died, leaving me to use a slow but living back up.  That is annoying and inconvenient.

But Friday before last I hit a deer with my car.  If you’ve ever had the experience, you know it’s a miserable business.  My car (yes, my little black and yellow smart car), suffered some damage which is being taken care of as I write,  The deer, I’m sad to say, did not survive.

On the other hand, I walked away without a scratch, for which I am eternally grateful.  Something else I’m grateful for are the words, “Are you all right?”  Within seconds of hitting the deer and pulling off to the side of the road, some bystanders stopped to ask, “Are you all right?”  They then helped pull the deer off the road so it wouldn’t cause another accident.  

Next, a trooper pulled up behind me, lights flashing.  It’s the first time I was glad to see flashing lights behind me.  And wouldn’t you know it, one of the first things he asked was, “Are you all right?”  He checked out the car to see if it was safe to drive home, but more importantly checked to see if I was okay to do the driving.  

Even the insurance company representative asked those four welcome words before anything else.  “Are you all right?” she asked, “I am so sorry you had to go through that.”  You know what?  I think she meant it sincerely, and not merely her company was going to be paying out some money.

Here’s the thing I did not expect.  It felt good.  Each time someone asked, it felt like they cared what happened to me.  It felt like people do care what happens to each other.  Sometimes that’s not our experience, is it?  Sometimes it feels like a cold and hard world.  Maybe it’s a question we need to ask each other more often.  

I have noticed that sometimes when we run into hard times - sickness, job stress, relationships in trouble - we avoid each other.  It’s almost as if we are afraid someone will ask, “Are you all right?”  I’ve also noticed that we are afraid to ask those four simple words, afraid to open a can of worms, afraid the person we ask might actually say, “No, I’m not all right!”  

Let’s overcome those fears, because from personal experience, those words have healing power all their own.  Even if I lie and say, “Oh yeah, everything’s fine,” when everything isn’t fine -- being asked helps.  Whether we go to the same church, belong to the same religion or don’t believe in God at all, we are all a community, and community means looking out for each other.

So, are you all right?