Wednesday, August 22, 2012
On Funeral Processions and Margins
Today I was on my way to physical therapy (back, knee, aging body--see older posts). I was late because traffic was awful and I am not very good at leaving enough time to anticipate non-normal commute times. That is another way of saying I don't leave margins in my life. Margins are the non-committed places in a calendar that let your spirit catch up with your body. Rest. Planning. Guilty pleasures like Sports Center or watching a Little League World Series game in its entirety.
So the reason for the traffic was a funeral--not just any funeral, but the funeral procession of St. Charles Parish deputy Brandon Nielsen (go here for the story articles.cnn.com/.../justice_louisiana-officers-shot_1_gunshot-wound ). A senseless shooting left two young men dead. One was buried yesterday (on his birthday) and the other was buried today. The reason traffic was backed up was that the law enforcement people around our state were out in force. The state patrol blocked entrance ramps.
A group of uniformed motorcycle riders led hundreds of cars in the processional. Most of the cars had their blue light bars on and as they passed, I saw the door decals of the state patrol, the border patrol, sheriffs from other parishes, city police, town police, federal police--you get the idea. The show of respect was overwhelming. Law enforcement personnel from all of these places marked this day on the calendar with less than a week notice and allowed nothing to get in the way of being in line behind the hearse that day.
To say I was moved is an understatement. I teared up thinking of how much it must mean to the family to see all of those blue lights flashing in silent support of their fallen comrade, unknown to many of them. The number of vehicles was impressive, but I also thought about the number of calendars that got rearranged because this one thing was the most important way they could have started their day.
I have been told since I started following Jesus that a daily time with God is the most important way to start my day. Jesus modeled (Matthew 14) that in the midst of challenging circumstances, it is a part of coping and healing to get away. Yet, I allow the smallest things to get in the way of the most important thing.
It is easy to see how the policemen and policewomen in the caravan this morning realized the importance of putting their existing agendas behind Officer Nielsen's funeral. Why can't I intuitively grasp the importance of putting sleep, breakfast, the morning paper, exercise or anything else ahead of time with the Creator of the Cosmos, the Healer of the Hurting, and the Mediator of my Manic schedule.
I imagine that from now on when I see flashing blue lights on a police cruiser (as long as they are not immediately behind my vehicle), I will remember to pray, thanking God that He is so available, so redemptive, and so able to maximize what I thought was precious time. He does that when I create margins for Him to speak into my day through His word and my meditation on it.
I will pray for your margins as well.