Thursday Reflection

April 11, 2019
When Events Come Together – Is it chance!
According to cliché masters and Christian bumper stickers, there are no “accidents” or “coincidences.” It is Saturday morning, and I’m sitting at my desk and catching my breath. Among the “close calls” and “dumb luck” of life, I was just driving through the grey and foggy mist on Rt. 123 earlier this morning, when out of the fog came a group of cyclists who seemed determined to clog the entire lane heading in the opposite direction. Then suddenly came a truck going much too fast that swerved into my lane to pass them, honked his horn at them, and I am virtually certain, never noticed that he was speeding right at me until I swerved, missed the ditch to my right and held my breath as he sped by me and missing me by the breath of a shadow of a hair! (There may even be tire tracks in my trunk – I haven’t looked yet).
I’ve had my share close encounters since I moved here to the “country,” where proper lighting and even sidewalks are considered the Devil’s spawn by some. This is but one more. But do I hold that my loving God may have decided to take Saturday morning off (to go fishing?) or was with me! Was it mere chance that put the cyclists, the road raged trucker and your humble servant at that one point in time and space?  Was God against me or with me or neither or both? Was this a manifestation of: divine protection, superior urban even if anciently honed driving skills or sheer dumb luck!
I think God gets way too much blame for bad human choices and not enough credit for guiding us to make the right ones. Is God to blame because the person with decades of poor eating choices dies of a heart attack?  I once wrote that I saw our dog Abby pick out the one parishioner (in a group sitting in the lobby) who was suffering from cancer, and sit by him.  How could she possibly know? (or was she guided?)  I recall many years ago going one evening to visit a parishioner in the hospital, but she was no longer there because, unknown to me, she had been discharged that afternoon. However in that room was now a person who wanted to speak with a priest – and so might one argue that I was “guided” to be where I should have been even if it was not with the person that I thought I was supposed to visit?
In my decades of ordained ministry, I have experienced too many “chance” events that make me question the notion of “chance.”  I have also made more than my share of stupid decisions leading to inappropriate comments and questionably intelligent actions. Was there no proper guidance from above or was I just not listening?
So was I meant to be on the road that road this morning with others who seemed bent upon creating the conditions for an accident? Or should I have left the residence one minute earlier and avoided the entire encounter? Was I guided? Did I make a bad choice? Or a good one? Only God truly knows the answer to these questions, but I do believe I ought to listen more attentively.
Fr. Joe