Sacred Spaces

At an Intersection

Yesterday, on my way driving to pick up a few more ingredients for my oldest son’s 27th (!!!) birthday dinner, I waited at an intersection in the lane next to a mom in a minivan, with two little guys—one maybe 3-1/2 years old, the other maybe 18 months?— strapped into their car seats in the middle row. The mom had her windows rolled down, the balmy air a cross breeze, and both children turned their heads to look at me when they felt me glancing at them. The 3-1/2-year-old locked eyes with me, smiled wide, then waved; his mom looked back at his movement, followed his gaze to me, then also lit up with a smile and waved. They were adorable, the familial stamp of eye and hair color, nose and chin shapes, repeated: one, two, three. I felt a surge of joy and gratitude, at their ready friendliness and easy happiness in that moment, at the good fortune of that mother in the middle of that day getting to be with her children; at my own luck, all those years ago—and for so many short years!—of getting to be with my children, my oldest and his two younger brothers. I remembered another intersection on another sunny day back in 2000, our minivan stopped at the red traffic light, the unbraking momentum of a truck helmed by an intoxicated, uninsured driver plowing into its rear. In an excruciatingly stretched moment, the van sandwiched between the car ahead and the truck behind, surrendered to the dual impact, totaled in its destruction, its frame crumpling around the cushioned car seats, precious bodies pressing against their vehicular cradles. In the midst of that instant and violent physics, the boys were protected. Sustained. Allowed to shout, “Green means go!” at more intersections, on more days.