Nearly Struck Dead, Alive

Lightning Strike!
Originally uploaded by MLaidlaw.
I was nearly struck by lightening the other day. It was while I was out guiding a crew of 20somethings in the Rio Grande National Forest. A single strike in what should have been a “safe” place landed 20 meters away, with enough after shock to blow small objects off surrounding gear. Close enough to remind me that nobody chooses when to die. Close enough to see the hand of God, white and glowing and be reminded that I am not him.

But it wasn’t a moment filled with fear. Shock, yes, but not fear in the sense that we normally associate with being afraid. And the reason for such a response was the history of relationship that had preceded that moment.

I used to think that God, when he reared his head, was out to “get” me, waiting for me to screw up so he might show his displeasure. My guess is, that more than a few us have lived this way. It’s rather absurd when you think about it, but it was Prince Mishkin, in "The Idiot,"that said “are we not all a little absurd?”

This time around, in the face of something utterly out of my control, something unexpected from none other than the hand of God, I had a response of respect, of beautiful awe and gratitude – not for coming out alive, but for getting to see a side of him that is a rarity in the city life. This comes with a significantly intimate history with my Creator; a relationship that is more a loving father having spent years to re-wire my response to his love from that of a fearful orphan to a trusting beloved son; from a lover that was flirting with me before I knew what that word meant, wooing me to his heart, to his arms into a marriage that now carries years of ups and downs under a lover’s fidelity.

And with all that, there was a sense of “I can take your life whenever the time suits me…so stop worrying about IT, about your life.” An odd way to be reminded of something so basic. But he is an odd one that is certain. It somehow takes the pressure off wondering if I am doing the right thing, making the right or wrong choices. A friend once said that there are very few things in life that are terminal; meaning that most mistakes are really rather small.

Could it be that God was making a pun with his creation by striking so close? Could it be that he was saying, “Lighten up! Even if you do everything right, it still doesn’t mean you are safe?”