Friday, October 18, 2013

Community in tragedy

I was sitting in a meeting with 11 other people when the news of a fatal car accident was delivered to us.  Not one of us in the room personally knew any of the people involved and yet each of us grieved.

The room turned from laughter to tears instantaneously. We cried for the children now motherless.  We prayed for the husband by his wife's side as she lies in the balance between life and death with a brain injury. 

We walked away and I heard from behind me, "You ok?" I shook my head no and didn't slow down to elaborate.  I was thinking to nearly 2 years ago when we waited, jumping at every phone call for news of our loved one who hung in the balance of life and death.  I was thinking of the brain injury that took him from this life to the next.  I was thinking of his funeral,  of his widow and young children. I was amazed at how fresh the memories and subsequent emotions crashed over me.

She finally caught me and I told her that I was grieving for our loss as well as the news we had just heard.  I fought my tears back but hers began flowing freely.  She recalled getting a phone call 12 years ago that her pastor had died in a car accident. Just a few minutes later I overheard another person saying that the news hit her because she was in a car accident last year with some friends.  No one had been seriously injured but a story like this makes you realize how fortunate you are.

I realized something.  Each of us was deeply affected by the news of this accident.  While we tried to put ourselves in the shoes of those directly affected and the weight was heavy,  we also all found ourselves struggling with our own past stories and our own hurts.

It was a moment that reminded me that everyone fights their own battle.  The same news hit each of us the same and yet triggered different feelings and memories. One was hit strongly because of the death, one because of the brain trauma and one because of the accident. 

It also reminded me that we are a community and we do life together.  We walk side by side through the pain and come through changed and stronger.  We leaned into each other and together we leaned into the comfort of our heavenly Father.

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