Easter and I have a crappy history. It all started back in Easter of 2006 when I woke up on Easter morning, curled up in a fetal position on my bedroom floor, after finding out my then-husband was having an affair.
There are no words to describe the feeling of a deep betrayal, but I will attempt to do so. Yes, there is shock, grief, anger, loss, etc. but there is mostly a bizarre emptiness that takes over you. It’s a realization that the water you’ve been drinking for years has been poisoning you, while you are unknowingly guzzling it, believing it to be clean. And you start to wonder why you believed and trusted the water to be clean in the first place. Could you have possibly known it was poisonous???
However, on Easter Sunday, 12 years later, I woke up feeling much differently. I was excited to go to a kundalini yoga class that morning at a new yoga studio. I hopped (no bunny puns intended) into my car and began to drive there.
What happened next was surreal. As I was driving down a main road in downtown Indianapolis, I spotted a car in my periphery that was moving slowly towards a stop sign at an intersection I was crossing. In the next second, I felt a devastating impact and held my breath as a car crashed into my back passenger side door. I spun in my car, gripping the steering wheel, feeling the shock of what in the hell just happened and then finally screeching to a stop, with my vehicle perpendicular to the road. I looked up, and saw the other vehicle slow down from the impact of hitting me. In fear, I felt myself wanting to make eye contact, but as I was looking at the driver, he suddenly pushed on the accelerator and kept driving.
The next moment was filled with uncontrollable crying as I dialed 911. (Crying is my jam. It’s just what I do.) A police officer stopped and pulled over next to me. I assumed he was the one who had been called to come to the scene, but I was wrong. He told me he had just gotten off duty, but would stay with me until the assigned officers arrived. He told me to call someone to come and get me, since the car was undrivable, and to begin calling my insurance company to tell them I was the victim of a hit and run.
I continued to let the tears flow, while talking to the insurance company, feeling the release of the trauma and shock as the next two police officers arrived. I replayed everything that happened in my mind as I retold them about the vehicle crashing into me. I found myself wanting to apply blame…to someone. Who would do this? Who crashes into someone, and just drives away? Who looks at someone who is clearly in fear and/or pain and just keeps going? Who floors their gas pedal because their fear of dealing with the hurt they have caused, outweighs the courage to face the damage they have done?
Since I couldn’t answer those questions, I then looked at myself. Was there anything I could have done to prevent this from happening? Even though I had the right of way, could I have possibly anticipated that he wasn’t going to stop? Why didn’t I get a good look at him? Why didn’t I look at his license plate number?
And then I started to blame the city: Why aren’t their cameras at every intersection to record this crap? Why didn’t anyone come out of their home to help me? Why was there only one person along the way who stopped to help?
As the tow truck came along, the driver listened in to the conversation I was having with my friend who came to pick me up. “Who does this?” I asked her.
“Someone high. Someone who has a warrant out for their arrest. Someone who doesn’t have a driver’s license. Someone…afraid,” she insightfully said.
“Someone who drives a Buick,” the tow truck driver chimed in, as he handed me a piece of the offender’s car he found in the street. I looked at it. It was the Buick symbol. A piece of the person. A piece of the vehicle which had crashed into me, on this bright Easter morning in 2018. I cringed, but took the piece of the car as a clue to the piece of my pain.
A week later, I am sitting in the sunroom writing this post to you. At this moment, I realize there is much to be grateful for. I am grateful I am physically okay. I am grateful for my friend who came to help me and for the police officers and the rental car employees, and for my insurance company.
I look at my daughter, thankful she wasn’t with me, and yet, terrified of the thought that she could have easily been sitting in the backseat at the point of impact.
But overall, now that I have some perspective, what I am reminded of is this: blaming others does not solve problems. What solves problems is doing the work–turning inward and acting on what we are called to do. And what else solves problems is deciding to act with compassion that is founded in truth, justice, and community.
I recall the moment when I looked over at him, and he floored the gas and drove away. That moment, to me, symbolizes all the moments when we look at someone in pain, and choose to keep walking.
We’ve all done it. We’ve all been the guy that drove away.
When we see homeless people on the street and somehow think they are not worthy of our attention, we are the guy that drove away.
When we hear the voice of someone in pain, speaking out about the injustice he or she feels, and yet we ignore it, we are the guy that drove away.
When we choose to not see others as being as valuable as ourselves, we are the guy that drove away.
When we choose to ignore those that we perceive to be different than us, we are the guy that drove away.
And please, don’t for one second, think that I’m “a good person” or “noble” for thinking this way. I’M JUST AS JACKED UP AS EVERYONE ELSE. I’m simply calling the sentiment into the light that “I am the other.”
It’s painful. It’s hard. But it’s a truth worth examining. And it’s what I believe DOES solve problems. The faster we can accept the reality that hurt people hurt people, the faster we can do the work and start to protect those who are suffering in our community.
And the faster we can actually begin to forgive.