on fragility, the human community, and shattered bike helmets…
Last Thursday morning, while taking my bike on a quick spin around the Lakes for a morning workout, another speedy biker turned right into me. This is my fourth summer of biking on roads and trails; in races, to work, and for fun…and this is the first time I’ve crashed big time. As I sat up, blood was dripping from my hand, my shoulder was getting stiffer by the second, and the foam on my bike helmet was shattered.
It was incredibly scary for me. My first phone call was full of tears, and my voice still cracks a bit when I think about the magnitude of it all. The doctor has now told me three times, “You know, if you weren’t wearing a helmet, you’d probably be dead – or at least in a coma.” That’s enough to knock anyone off kilter for a bit.
The good news is that I’m okay, if a bit shaken. My wounds have been scrubbed and dressed, my shoulder x-rayed, my head scanned. But more than that, strangers rushed to check on me, husbands were late to work because their wives waited with me, one runner ran to get her car to drive me and my tousled bicycle home. I was checked in on by doctors and nurses, driven around by co-workers and friends, and doted on, really, by all.
What amazes me is what a display of human fragility and vulnerability can bring out in people; the innate call to nurture, protect, and come to the rescue of those in danger; the reorientation of priorities; a rush of gratitude. We have to, I believe, be created good.
At base, my brokenness elicited a call to others. It reminded them of who they were, and what was possible. And for me, this fragility, this vulnerability stripped me bare in a way I haven’t experienced in a while. I was brought to my knees in gratitude for the goodness of people, the love that surrounds me, and the gift of life. Thanks be to God.