I can talk about anguish this morning, about the Amtrack train wreck, that we heard about while driving to Cincinnati, or I can talk about love.
Or, maybe, just maybe, there is an overlap in those stories.
Life is full of overlaps, isn’t it? There are things, ideas, emotions and circumstances that run parallel, and there are times when all of those things, and more, criss-cross, run perpendicular, meet in the middle, or never meet. Sometimes these things collide, derail, and fall off bridges and land on top of each other.
The train began leaning. Instead of feeling that solid feeling, like when we have our feet planted firmly on the ground, I read that the train leaned.
Trains shouldn’t lean. Their wheels should be on those rails.
The man in the account that I read, said, he didn’t think much of it at first, but then the train leaned more, and more. He made himself into a ball and rode with the train car as it left the tracks. At the time, he didn’t know it, but the train car landed on to of trees.
He was together enough to decide to jump out a window, only to find that he was about a story and a half up in the air.
But he was alive.
At least six people, according to reports, dies.
Love was heightened the moment that happened. That man,the one who escaped, look to see who he could help. Others, who were on the freeway, left their cars to try to help.
First responders came to rescue people they didn’t know. They were the ones who also removed bodies.
People who might have been sipping tea or taking a shower or dropping off a child at school, would be getting phone calls. Some of the calls were going to be like miracles. But there were going to be many calls telling people that their loved ones were dead.
Not only would they miss this Christmas, that is days away, but they would not be at any Christmas’s, ever, again.
The media, as the media tends to do, began spitting out information that pummels our brains. Some of it is correct. Some of it isn’t.
The details will be the details. The blame will be assigned and the tail of this tale, will stretch out for years, with lawsuits and accusations and such.
But the real story, for me, is, that at at least 6 houses or apartments, people will be waiting for someone to open the door, ask what is for dinner, give them a hug, and give them love.
We all know that at the end of any death story, be it wreck, illness, and even murder, what makes it so sad, is that love, that thing we all want, is gone.
Love is a wonderful thing. Yes, it can hurt. Yes, it can be a pain in the queen’s tea, but what would our lives be like without love?
Maybe it is the romantic love and maybe it isn’t. Perhaps it is family love, which, in and of itself, has its hiccups. But it can also be or come in the form of a friend, a pet, a community, group, and even from strangers.
And that is where the train wreck swings back into the story.
There were acts of love at that train wreck. The acts of love came to strangers who were in need. Strangers helping strangers.
One person who wanted to help, saw people who were trapped under wreckage. He couldn’t get them out, but he stayed with them to provide comfort, love. Yes, love for his fellow man, not someone he knew, but a person who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I know that if I were the person under the wreckage, having another person with me, to show me human kindness and love, would be, well, I can’t even describe how important it would be.
Love can be tricky business. But it can also be so pure, so wonderful, so uplifting, that it becomes palpable. To feel loved is sustenance. To give love is divine. It gives us life.
But because of God’s design, humans die. Our bodies have expiration’s dates. The dates and times and way we die, is random. Sometimes we know ahead of time when someone we love will die, but many times, we don’t. It just happens.
I can take myself to a very dark place right now, if I am not careful. I am sitting by the front door at one of my daughter’s house. I can and have gone to the point in my mind … the what if, point, imagining that front door won’t open, or the phone will ring and it will be a call that brings me to my knees.
I try not to do it. I used to do it more, when I was younger and frightful of life and death. But now, I know that such thoughts do not do me any good. They do not prepare me. They simply disturb me.
So I tend to bask in the feelings of love and delight in extending my good feelings of love beyond myself and family and friends. Giving love through smiles, hugs, kind words, things I make, and acknowledging a person’s presence, are how I don’t fall into my own shadows of the what-ifs.
Feeling love for humanity can be hard. But it also can save us from turning into toads.
Those people who jumped in and tried to help their fellow humans, made that decision to help, to love.
Isn’t that grand?
We each have that choice, don’t we? Leave or love? See or hide? Extend or retreat?
Love … it is the gift that keeps on giving.
I say, choose love.