When you are almost struck down by a speeding SUV, by someone whom you imagine later to be the worst kind of person, your life does not flash before you. At least not for me.
After I was almost hit, my life unspooled in quiet places, when I would remember lifting my black-booted foot and starting in to the crosswalk.
But I did not step in to the crosswalk and to what would have been an instant death. No, the ears God gave me to hear stopped that booted foot from stepping down off the ancient Denver sidewalk curb. The crosswalk was green, green with the certain, “It’s clear, folks, come on over!”, green with the walking man and his promise of safe passage. It was rush hour and the streets of LoDo were clogged. I could have looked behind me, should have looked behind me, but I walk these streets every day for work. They are as familiar to me as the streets around my suburban home.
That boot dangled in the air as my brain screamed “Don’t! No! Danger!” and then I was able to understand the warning: an SUV was roaring through the red light, careening over the crosswalk, cutting the corner I was stepping into. Not safe. Not safe.
It must have been a good two or three seconds before I put my raised leg down. Before I stepped back from the curb. I felt, for some reason, embarrassed to be standing there with my leg raised, swinging slightly. And then I was mad, very mad. I looked up: the black SUV had advanced all of a half of block.
When I could breathe again, I crossed the street and walked the two blocks where my family was waiting. A husband, three children, a playground. The tears came then, when I looked at their faces and the domestic scene that unfolded: a diaper change, hand sanitizer, plans of dinner.
“You would have heard sirens,” I began, unable to tell Jonathan more.
He held me tight. The girls wondered why Mommy was crying. We went to dinner.
I’ve thought of that moment, just weeks ago, so many times since. When I tucked in a sweet-smelling baby. When my prayer group met and I thought, “I would not have been here.” When I creek-walked with my eldest girl for the first time yesterday because a creek that is bubbling over with fresh spring needs to be crossed in bare feet.
None of us know how long we will walk this Earth. How many times have we strayed close to the edge? How many times has His hand stooped low to save us?
I am uncomfortable with banal platitudes: “It wasn’t your time” or “His hand pushed you back from the curb.” No, I am not smug enough to think that God’s hands move one way for me, one way for you, and that I can explain it. I can’t.
But here is what I can offer: Gratitude. Thankfulness. A fervent prayer that I would use my ears that warned me of the speeding car and my mind which was able to stop my body to tell others: It’s not safe, it’s not. Not without God, nothing is safe. You will feel safe, you will be safe, when you know Him.
Because the truth is, we’re very good at telling ourselves we are safe. That the paycheck or our youth or our well-behaved children will keep us secure. And then something reminds us of the mirage we’ve created. We realize we have just this: a day, a night, a few more.
My prayer since that late afternoon in LoDo has been: God, lead me toward what you want me to accomplish. Draw me close and whisper the words you tell my heart each day: It is safe with Me, it is always safe, no matter what comes.
I’ve taken a break from blogging here, and I am honored if you have returned to read my writing. I am also blogging about art, books and life at our new online store for Fat and Appy. I would be honored to have you visit there or here, anytime. I’m @jenmanskefenske and @fatandappyfun on Twitter.