Last week, on my way to my hair appointment I drove up on the remains of three car pile-up. It was obvious that it was a serious accident. I began to say a prayer for those involved and for those whose lives would be touched dramatically by this event. I’ve been doing this, praying when I hear sirens or when I see an accident, for most of my life. In fact, I’ve been praying when I hear sirens since I was about five.
It was raining outside as we sat in the farmhouse that warm June evening, 1973. It wasn’t a heavy rain; it was more of a mist. In the distance we could hear sirens. Our house was at one time in the country but, the town had crawled out to it and now, was only about a city block away. An acre of tall grass and weeds stood between our yard and the new development to the east. A border of trees blocked our view of the modern world butting up to my childhood paradise.
Mom, like so many women at that time, hadn’t yet ventured to obtain a driver’s license. So, days and nights were spent in the confines of that at-one-time rural property. I remember those years fondly, picking mulberries with pails in hand, picnic lunches in the tall grasses, playing house in the mammoth lilac bush, incubating duck eggs and watching them hatch. It was a beautiful childhood; safe and removed from the rest of the world.
Money was tight, my parents were saving up to build a house in town. “Going out” was a rarity. We saw the rest of the world on Sunday’s for church or on weekends for lunches at my Aunt and Uncle’s. In the evenings, Dad sat in front of the TV and fell asleep in his living room chair, but not this night. This night, Dad’s curiosity got the best of him as the growing sirens doubled and tripled in the near distance. Suddenly, he announced we were going to investigate. This wasn’t the first time dad had found adventure in chasing sirens but, it would be the last.
As my parents, siblings and I piled into the car, I could feel the stirring excitement. Dad was on a mission. The rain picked up and the wind shield wipers kept a pounding rhythm, a backdrop to our excitement. We didn’t drive far, just a couple miles west when the traffic began to congest and officers directed cars off the road onto the shoulder to go around the incident. The flashing lights danced off the wet pavement. There were numerous police cars and an ambulance. As we passed the site, my dad’s demeanor shifted from alert curiosity to a heavy solemn.
On that misty evening an elderly woman walked across her road to her country mail box and was struck and killed by a passing car. My dad, through his work had knew her. The reality of what we had chased became clear and we drove home in silence.
We all learn through our experiences. On that rainy night over four decades ago, my dad and I both lost a little bit of innocence. To this day, when I hear a siren I say a prayer ’cause you never know who, or what, the sirens are running to but, we do know that the sirens are a call for prayer.
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.