Last night, 5.45pm, I was alone driving the Sea to Sky Highway, going to my Tuesday yoga class. With COVID protocols in place we no longer carpool. It was a beautiful evening; the sun was still above the mountains, and the sky clear. I rounded a bend and saw the brake lights come on in the car ahead of me. There was a cluster of people on the left-hand side of the road. Across the barrier in the northbound land was a white car, upside down and torn apart, belongings scattered across the road. People were on their phones calling for help. One person knelt looking into the interior. This was a wreck, the car a write-off and mostly likely a Life slipping away. I decided not to stop. I know my presence can be helpful to people, but in this instance I felt my primary offering was prayer, so I entered more deeply into a place of prayer in my heart.
I continued to drive, but with a heavy heart. I took my exit and on the road below met an ambulance heading towards them. I entered yoga. One other class member had driven by the scene. She too said her response was to begin to pray. During our class we heard a helicopter with air rescue arrive on the scene.
An hour and half later I left my class, still carrying a prayerful heavy heart. The entrance ramp to the highway was strangely empty. In a couple of kilometers I saw the brake lights ahead of me. I too slowed down and soon turned off my engine. I had joined the pack of those in the enlarged circle of pain.
I don’t know the details of the accident. The news only covers the superficial info that traffic in both directions was blocked on the Sea to Sky Highway last night. We sat there, one, two three hours. Sometimes we’d slowly move forward a few yards, but mostly we sat as darkness surrounded us, and stars emerged. Twice emergency vehicles appeared and we maneuvered our cars to the edge of the highway to let them through. Then we turned off our engines again and sat so quietly in the encompassing darkness. No one tried to barge through the passageway we’d created. Once, I got out of my car to stretch and see what was ahead. All I could see was a line of mostly dark cars, waiting. Inside cars lights glowed as people focused on their phones. One child was protesting. A few dogs were out for a walk. Mainly we all sat quietly, silently in our cars. Drawn together by a bad turn, a roll-over no one had anticipated.
I felt a Life slip away. I wondered about that life, or lives. Who was it? Where were they going? What did they hope for? I wondered about the close circle around them and how radically their lives would be changed. I wondered about the hundreds of us stopped in the normal flow of life. Where were we going? Where were we not going to be going? How will these hours change our lives? Did anyone care what was happening to us? What if I’d been in my usual carpool car? I was content to be alone.
I couldn’t see the angels that all praying people in that traffic jam had stirred into action, but I could feel their presence. I felt both locked in and secure. Four hours passed. Four hours of waiting, of praying, of being still, of repeating my current mantra, of listening to some gentle music. I didn’t bring my glasses to yoga so that helped me be still rather than catch up on news, emails or games. At 10.15 an emergency vehicle drove down the other side of highway informing us that the highway would open in forty-five minutes. In the last half hour, I dialed in a movie.
They were true to the timing and shortly after 11.00pm we slowly began to move forward. It was still another thirty minutes to get home. Usually it’s ten minutes door-to-door. Last night it was four hours. But I got home; to a warm home, a husband who stayed up to welcome me, and food in my fridge. My life continues. But I witnessed another Life slip away and felt the impact we have on each other. I’ve watched people die, sat with them as they took their last breath. Sacred moments. In a perverse way I’m grateful for last night. In the darkness, in the creeping cold of the evening, God is present to me. Life comes and life goes. We know not how long we have. How shall we live today?
Love and prayers
Mystic in Motion
Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire
Contemplative Fire Canada, Founder
Shalem Society Member