My sisters and I were rear-ended the other evening.
On the way to a girls' night out, our car was rammed from behind with a loud smash. Each of our three heads pitched forward and snapped back. Stunned and jolted, I watched as my younger sister, who'd been driving, jumped out of the car to survey the damage. The two drivers began to exchange information and agreed to call the police. We moved the cars off the road to wait for the squad car.
For a while I couldn't think. Fears filled my head. What if we were injured?
While we waited for the police, the other driver burbled forth her life story. She'd just had surgery. She was going through a divorce. She had a chronic skin condition. She was late on some of her bill payments.
All of this just added to my confusion. The policeman arrived, and my sisters and I got back in the car to wait for him to write up the report. And that's when the rubber hit the road, so to speak.
After comparing notes about how we were feeling - they were jolted, I was queasy - I said, "All right now. How can we think about this?" This was family code for, "I'm a little too upset about this. Can we make the conversation more positive?" And my older sister got right to it.
She reminded us that we had a choice. We didn't have to think of ourselves as victims or the other driver as at fault. We could instead see this as an opportunity to learn something, to help someone else, and to love each other.
My sisters and I are all familiar with the teachings of Christian Science as found in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy, though we each practice them in different degrees. We were all willing at that moment to share spiritual ideas to help each other relieve any tension or anxiety.
Christian Science has as one of its key concepts the idea that Love is omnipresent, that it fills all space. It also teaches that this Love is omnipotent, or all powerful. To me, this has always meant that Love is irresistible. I can't ever be separate from it, I can't ever fall out of it. I am enveloped in Love. The Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote: "The depth, breadth, height, might, majesty, and glory of infinite Love fill all space. That is enough!" (Science and Health, page 520).
The three of us considered together the omnipresence of Love, of God. We talked about how this idea of Love could turn around what our eyes and ears were telling us.
I was especially grateful for this thought, because as the passenger in the backseat, I had the best view of all of us when the bump occurred, and I was having a hard time letting the image go. It kept replaying. My sister reminded me that if we hung on to the image of impact, we'd be stuck worrying about the consequences.
The idea that Love was the only thing really there helped me turn from this image and entertain a new idea - that we were all children of God, brought together to witness to His love.
In the car that evening as we talked, I began to see that the other driver was also enveloped in that Love. And it became clear to me that if she was in Love, and my sisters and I were in Love, there could truly be no conflict, no injury. I could feel compassion for the other driver, see past her litany of troubles, and regard her as the beloved of Love.
Everything calmed down for me after that. I lost any fear that there would be unpleasant repercussions. The damage to the two vehicles was minor. We soon went ahead with our girls' night out, and the conversation continued along spiritual lines, giving us an evening rich in understanding and support.
Later I sent a note to the other driver, letting her know that we were all fine and sharing how we'd prayed, and I included a copy of Science and Health. Now, when I look back, it seems the entire episode provided not an accident, but an opportunity for love and blessing.
Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about
with songs of deliverance.