I saw God today.
Yep, that’s a bold and dramatic statement, and no, I haven’t lost my mind (or what’s left of it). I really and truly, honest-to-goodness saw God today. I don’t know what He looks like, but what I do know is that the God I believe in manifests in goodness, love and support. He manifests through random acts of kindness and a true sense of community.
Today was an average, ho-hum kind of day. It was also my Mom’s birthday and we went out for a delicious brunch. We came home, I did some tidying and reading. I watched a movie with my little guy, My brother’s girlfriend had a death in the family, and I had offered to meet her at the bus stop to help her get home. I originally had boots on my feet, but after walking around for a few minutes had decided I’d rather wear my new Toms and break them in. Besides, I was only going to be in the car, right? WRONG.
As we neared the cable-ferry I cross to get to and from the highway, my phone rang. It was my mom, and the sound of panic mixed with relief in her voice was immediately upsetting. “There was just a call on for the Fire Dept. Thank God it’s not you. It’s a car accident, near the shore. You’d better stop, none of the members have called back in.” I got out on the ferry to tell the staff I needed to get across immediately. I had hit the ferry at shift-change, a procedure that takes 10-15 minutes, meaning you sit for that amount of time. They took us across immediately, and let me off ahead of nine other cars. With my caution lights flashing and R in the passenger seat, we were off.
|My shoes, post-accident|
I pulled up on the scene not knowing what to expect. I had no radio from which to obtain information, but I parked on the side of the road and hopped out. I ran across to see a group of strangers lining the shoulder of the road, an RCMP officer and two of my fellow Fire Department members near a badly demolished truck. That’s when I saw the blanket on the ground. I stumbled and slipped down the embankment, wishing I had worn a better pair of shoes as I rolled my ankle and lost my footing. It wasn’t until I was up to my ankles in muck – cold, filthy, smelly, gasoline-enhanced muck – that I was really sorry I’d worn these shoes. For a split second, I thought about not going further. For five steps, I tried to avoid the deep, squishy muck. Finally, I gave up. They’re fucking shoes, and there’s a woman lying on the ground.
As ambulances pulled up, I ran up the embankment to help them with whatever I could. Back down with a backboard, back up for more, back down with more. Up and down and up and down we went, myself and other volunteers – men and women who had been sitting down to their dinners, enjoying time with their families. There were only five people who had to be there, five people who had a duty to the public. Everyone else was there because they wanted to help. How amazing is that?
On my final trip up the embankment, which was slipping away beneath my feet I felt myself go. Shit, I thought as I lost my balance altogether. Before my knees hit the rocks beneath me, two hands grabbed my arms. Strangers. People who had stopped to see if they could help, people who’d stripped their cars of blankets and towels to help the victims of this accident. It was a minor act of kindness to stop me from falling flat on my ass, and yet it moved mountains. Twenty-five, thirty people stood out in the cold mist and darkness for over ninety minutes. Some scanned the ground with small flashlights, some hovering over the victims of the accident, others directing traffic, all working together.
When it was all said and done, not a single person could leave there without saying that was community. That was care and compassion and selflessness. That was God, and this community is blessed. Every time I feel like I’m losing faith in humanity, I can pull the memory of this night – this awful accident – and I can be reminded that there are still people who’d risk it all for their neighbour and that faith in my fellow man will be restored.
|The scene from the side of the road, after the removal of the vehicle.|
Both accident victims were taken by ambulance, but both were aware and seemed to be doing quite wel, all things consideredl. Less importantly, my shoes were salvageable and are hanging to dry.