Yesterday was pretty sucky. Not a nice word, but there you have it. I took Evangeline (who has yet to be properly introduced here!) to the Social Security Office to apply for a social security number.
When we emerged from the building the first thing I saw was our Ford Fusion bearing a spectacular dent on the front passenger door. This was not a scratch folks. It was the kind of smash that prompted colorful language from the cop who came to file the police report, and then confirmed to our autobody people that we now need a whole new door. Yay.
Needless to say there was no note and no one had come inside to confess. An employee had seen a red car driving away and thought the license plate had the numbers 8-8 in it. The kind of information that will, no doubt, lead to a full scale manhunt all across the entire Twin Cities metro area. Because our law enforcement officers have nothing else to do with their time. Right.
It was interesting to me how visceral my reaction was to the obvious injustice of the act. I felt myself so wronged…so aggrieved. Anger. Frustration. The desire to speak to the first person who would hear me – someone who might do something about it! And I wasn’t the only one. The employees at the office; the passersby; the policemen. They all expressed the same sentiment on my behalf. My favorite was an elderly African American woman who was obviously quite the character. She had a head full of white cornrows and a t-shirt with a cross on it. She told me she had once backed into someone else’s car and had gone into the building to find out whose car it was so she could confess because, well, my goodness, that’s.what.you.do. She said it turned out well for her and she gave the credit to God. I saw my cue and was grateful for it. “God is good all the time,” I said. Her face lit up. “Yes, He is!” I needed to say the words and the Lord provided a witness.
Which got me to thinking of all the others in that parking lot who could have been hit if they had been parked where my car was and, at the end of the day, it’s ok that it was me. Sounds kinda stupid, but there you go. I have a theology of hit-n-run that a lot of folks don’t get to have.
One of the women who walked by my car as I was waiting for the cops to come shook her head and said, “This is ridiculous. This is why I never drive into Minneapolis.” She used that word, “ridiculous,” over and over. As if it only happens in certain parts of the city that simply can’t manage to be more civilized. I disagree. Wrong? Yes. Ridiculous? No. And certainly not confined to Minneapolis.
I had a mental image of the world as a gymnast, doing its routine, messing up royally and landing in a mess, but instead of breaking everything only a few bones get fractured because it lands on the soft cushion of the Church’s life and thought, welling up from the Spirit inside her. It seems to me that the Spirit in the Church is what keeps the world from breaking altogether. We can take the hit-n-runs; we can absorb the impact. It doesn’t surprise us and it doesn’t break us. But it does hurt a lot and sometimes the wounds leave scars.
This world is an unmitigated disaster. Everyone knows it. From the weather systems in Oklahoma to the sweat shops in Asia to babies who will not survive pregnancy to the international adoption scene the entire thing is broken. Christians aren’t surprised by that. We’re told to expect it. It has always been this way. And as long as the world has been broken the Church has been absorbing the impact. When Christians take in an orphan suffering from sin committed by someone entirely unknown to them what is that but absorbing the impact and consequence of a hit-n-run? When the church extends itself to help the poor, the disabled, the suffering what else is it saying except, “We know all about the Fall. We’ll absorb the impact of its smashing into your life and your mind and your spirit.”
And, of course, sometimes we don’t have to reach out to absorb someone else’s hit-n-run. Sometimes it means our own children and our own family. Today it meant our car, our deductible, our carefully saved pennies. But it’s the same thing. We can absorb it. It’s not going to do us damage. Not in the long term.
I remember a conversation after our first adoption possibility fell through in a terribly painful way. A friend who had experienced the same thing told me that she and her husband had decided after the fact that it was a good thing it had happened to them because if it hadn’t, it would have happened to someone else. They could take the impact and they could bear the resulting scars. I remember thinking that was a pretty amazing thing for her to say. I also remember thinking I had a lot less spiritual gumption to absorb my own hit-n-run as graciously as she did.
Maybe yesterday was just a small reminder of what life is actually like on this side of the Resurrection. Maybe I can take one more step to absorbing the impact of the Fall graciously and courageously…so someone else doesn’t have to.