We all begin as tiny, fragile eggs.
I wasn’t thinking about that as our family cruised home from summer vacation along the multilane Highway 401 in Ontario, our minivan like a mobile nest. My wife was driving while I slept in the passenger seat. Our two small children were snuggled in their car seats behind us.
Suddenly my wife gasped, and my eyes jerked open as she cried, “We’ve lost the stroller!” Seconds later I was sprinting down the shoulder of the highway against traffic. Though we had packed our double stroller in our zip-up roof bag, it had somehow launched itself out, opening to its full size in midair, and landed in the passing lane. I dodged traffic to get it off the road and pushed the scraped but otherwise perfectly functioning stroller back to our vehicle.
The zippers on our roof bag must have somehow joggled open. That had never happened before, and I recall no alerts in the instructions when we purchased the bag. I put the stroller back inside and secured the two zippers with a paper clip so they wouldn’t budge. Then, quite shaken, we sat in the van with wide eyes.
That the 401 was not strewn with the wreckage of multiple vehicles was miraculous to us. What had saved us from becoming orphan- and widow-makers was probably a matter of seconds and centimeters.
Yikes. We sat there, struck numb by what carnage we might have wrought upon our fellow human beings. Such horrible things do happen. Why were we spared the mess and hurt this time?
The question still rings without settling. What’s clear is that when we fly along in steel-framed cubes and tubes, we have the illusion that we inhabit a solid, almost impenetrable shell, safe from all harm. This incident served as a red-flag reminder that one unsuspecting moment can crack that shell wide open. Our technology can fail us. We make mistakes.
With a shiver, I remember previous motor vehicle accidents that violently made this point to me. God’s grace has preserved me through a number of disasters, which is not to say God’s grace spared me injury and harm. All of life is a gift, but not all of life is painless.
My wife and I still mull over that double stroller, itself an image of vulnerability. A year later it bears some nasty scratches, and the fabric is torn in places. Still, it carries our children safely across varied terrain. Sometimes, when the luxury of silence is afforded us, we hear the stroller speaking to us of weighty things.
God’s grace can preserve us, but it can also, more important perhaps, transform us. Near misses are often less transformative than prolonged trials. Nevertheless, we remain most grateful for having been spared, and that thankfulness seeps down deep within us.
We’ve also taken preventative action. A new roof box. Hard-shell.