He Lives Among Us
Just a few hours after I hit ‘publish’ on my last post, I was driving down a road I’ve driven hundreds of times through the years of carpooling, driving to work, heading to Fresh Market or I-85. Every time I leave home headed east, I’m driving this stretch. It’s as familiar to me as the neighborhood I was walking January 6th.
I was in the left lane knowing I would be turning left at the next intersection when I heard and felt the impact from my ride side. “Oh my gosh; I’ve been hit,” I said out loud, having no idea who or what hit me. I turned into a nearby driveway, tried to call my husband, and got out to examine my car and find the other car and driver involved.
A city limb truck was stopped in the right lane, and the other car was behind it. I walked toward the driver and asked “Are you OK?” Her immediate and angry response was to tell me I wasn’t paying attention and that I saw her turn signal but I blew on past her. I stood there listening; and at first, I believed her. WHY I did is a question a professional counselor should probably answer. My thoughts were running like this… I guess I didn’t see her…I don’t remember…I was aware of the limb truck…cars behind it…I wasn’t speeding. My mind raced through details as I listened to her tirade and assumed it was my fault. About that time my phone rang. It was my husband. Though I told him I was OK physically, when he heard what was going on in the background, he said, “I’m on the way.” (I love that man.)
Suddenly, a detail in her rant shook me out of my shock. “I saw you in my rearview mirror in the right lane and you changed lanes when you saw my turn signal,” she was saying. I was never in the right lane. From the previous intersection I’d been in the left lane because it’s a short stretch of road and I knew I was turning soon. (That man I love would say I’m a left-lane driver. I call it being prepared.)
When he arrived and took one look at the damage to my car which was on the passenger side door behind the front wheel, he said to me, “In NASCAR they would say she got into you.” He told me to stay quiet and wait until the police arrived. Lord, thank you for this NASCAR-watching, grizzled veteran I married who stays calm and thinks clearly when there is chaos swirling around him. You’re showing up in him.
When I sent my daughter a text to tell her what happened, her response was a quote from my blog a few weeks ago, “Oh mom! As Mrs. K. would say, “sh#t!” Let me know what I can do for you. Love you.” You’re showing up in her, too, Jesus. Like you, she is feeling the fear and frustration and pain with me. Those are your words: ‘Let me know what I can do for you. Love you.’
This is sideways grace —to borrow my friend BK’s phrase. God in skin and human voice. He has all kinds of ways to be with us, to speak to us, but showing up in a human is his M.O.
Incarnation. Jesus. God showing up as a human, with skin and a voice and tears and a taste for grilled fish for breakfast.
It is not lost on me that my key word for 2018 is Incarnation. A word whispered in prayer in December 2017. Before the attack out of nowhere from over my right shoulder while I was walking on Jan. 6th on a familiar street. Before I got slammed in my car from the right side on a road I’ve driven countless times. Before I knew how many thousands of seemingly insignificant decisions make up one wedding. Before I knew how much more house cleaning you have to do when you live with a 92 lb. German Shepherd and play fetch every morning with the first cup of coffee.
Yesterday, I was telling my wise aunt that lately I have little time for reflection. A wrecked car feels like ‘just one more thing’ in a long list of tasks to complete with a wedding less than two months away and new enormous dog in my life. She said to me, “Sometimes no reflection is a good thing. You are just living life without having to contemplate it and God is carrying you along in the Spirit. That is not all bad; He can explain it later or NOT. It’s like being so busy taking pictures on the vacation we forget to enjoy the scenery and the vacation.” Those life-giving words brought tears to my eyes.
There you are again, Jesus. Telling me to enjoy the scenery, to let your Spirit carry me, to wait for you to show me meaning - or not, to just live my embodied, messy, busy life right now.
Richard Rohr says, “Many of us seek ‘higher states of consciousness’ and moral perfectionism, while Jesus simply comes “and lives among us.” Yes. He’s everywhere, if only we look for him living among us in those we live among.