Last Monday, my wife Roberta, our 8-month old son, and I were in a car accident. It was the other driver’s fault. At about the last possible moment, the other driver had attempted to pull out in front of me from a side road and make a left turn across my lane. Her transmission slipped, leaving her stranded in my lane. All I could do was slam on the brakes and plow into her, luckily striking her car just behind the driver’s door. Everyone was okay, except for a nice-size cut on my left hand and airbag burns up my left arm. Roberta had an airbag burn on her right wrist. The severity of the accident ranks somewhere between minor and major. Both cars had to be towed. No ambulance. Our car ended up being classified by the insurance company as “totaled”. And of course, the insurance money won’t be enough to replace it. I plan to post more about the accident later.
At the scene of the accident, my wife and I were calm and patient. No displays of anger. The other driver was very civil too, and seemed overly apologetic. Roberta and I just had this deep sense of disappointment that the accident happened, and were especially thankful that no one was seriously hurt. It could have been much worse. Over the next couple of days, our frustration mounted as we dealt with insurance companies and such. Nothing much is settled yet, but thoughts of lawyers and lawsuits pop in my head every now and then.
I was reminded at last night’s Mass that it has taken nearly a week for me to realize that I needed to forgive the other driver. During Father Ken’s homily, he reminded us that we are a divided people. We are a divided people on many levels: neighbor with neighbor, nation with nation, church with church, and so on. And when we partake of the Eucharist, we are joining with the body of Christ. I was reminded of Christ as the Vine, and we are the branches. How can we join with the Body and be part of the Whole if we are quibbling with our neighbor? It is one branch of the same Vine fighting with another. I knew what I had to do then.
Ten days ago, I was involved in a discussion with an atheist on another weblog. I was about to post the question below before I lost electricity and my computer troubles began.
How do you love your neighbor? Or better yet, how do you love your enemy? By love, I mean you forgive any transgressions, and honestly hope well for the other person. I suppose the best an atheist can do is tolerate them, or maybe ignore them. But that’s not love, and more importantly, that’s not forgiveness. If you love your enemy, and this seems only possible through God, you will not want to do any violence or malice against them. I imagine an atheist can only resist violence based on his or her morals and ethics.
I pray for Jennifer, the other driver. I forgive her. I let go of all my frustrations and disappointments. It is in God’s hands anyhow. I am glad that she is not hurt. I wish her more success with the insurance company than us. I pray for forgiveness from Christ that it took me so long to realize that I needed to forgive Jennifer. Thank you for reminding me to put others before me. And I pray that Jennifer lives a long, happy, prosperous life in the light and love of Christ.

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