Lifting the Fallen

MotorcycleNaturalPosition-633x387[1]

The flow of thick Saturday morning traffic halts. Red lights flash, heartbeats pulse with loud thumps.

A fallen motorcycle lays in the far right lane of the six-lane highway, a gleaming pile of suddenly immobile metal and rubber.

The small SUV in front of my larger SUV slows, stops, emergency lights flashing a warning. Two woman leap out, rush to the scene in front of their car.

A downed motorcycle. People on the road.

The sight of the motorcycle on its side halts my breath. I slam my foot on the brake and glance in the rear view mirror. My finger jams the red triangle button on the dash. The car behind me pulls closer, but sees the lights.

They slow.

Someone honks on the southbound side. Everything metal and human slows.

People on the road.

Two people had been astride the muscular bike, and my body fires with the spiky adrenaline as the drama of Hollywood jumps into real life with no stunt people and no CGI to fill in the blanks.

People on the road.

I crane my neck–rubbernecking is a thing–and peer around the small SUV. The two ladies are on the scene, standing over the downed bikers, shouting questions.

Helping the fallen.

Hands reach for hands, and the two bikers struggle to their feet. A collective sigh fills the vehicles stopped on their way to pick up groceries and attend birthday parties. Gather with friends and play soccer games.

The motorcycle is black and shiny–a Harley most likely–and its riders a man and woman, middle-aged. Shock slows their bodies, paints their features. The  man nods at something the passenger–his wife?–says.

Car doors slam and three more people fill the scene, concern worn like coats, arms outstretched. Cell phones ready.

Someone takes a picture, and I grimace. Put it away.

A faithful woman jumps off her stool on the grass-carpeted corner from which she hands out grace each Saturday. The cardboard “Jesus Cares” sign tucked under one arm, she hurries toward the motorcycle couple brushing gravel from their jeans and leather jackets.

Without hesitating,  Jesus Cares wraps each biker in a thorough hug, comforting as a mother would. Whispering words I wish I could hear, but smile about anyway.

They’re okay. I’m still uncertain what happened this bustling morning, but they’re okay.

A burly bystander has picked up the bike, and three people roll it to the roadside. The ladies in the small SUV in front of mine jump back in their vehicle, pull up beside the limping bikers, and reset their flashers.

Giving the stunned bikers more time to settle, necessary moments to recuperate from meeting the road face-to-face, while the rest of us slowly drive away, considering what happened. Thinking of those now behind us who lifted the fallen.

Of Jesus Cares offering arms to comfort, hold close. Coming forward to strengthen and support.

em2754[1]

And I’m reminded of friends and family, of tight warm arms and grace-filled, you-can-still-fly words that have lifted me when I’ve fallen. Can you, too? I hope so.

Two are better than one,
Because they have a good reward for their labor.
For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.
But woe to him who is alone when he falls,
For he has no one to help him up.
Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm;
But how can one be warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.
And a threefold cord is not quickly broken. (Ecc. 4:9-12)

When I started this writing life, it was mostly on my own. My parents have always been there, from the day in fifth grade when I wrote a story called Attack of the Killer Onions after watching a goofy movie with dangerous grumbling tomatoes.

They–and other dear family members– have moved me forward to the dream’s beginning mark. To the “GO” God inscribed on my heart seven years ago with a character who wouldn’t get out of my head.

Now there are fellow writers whose arms have lifted. Whose words have encouraged and whose stories have inspired.

And I meet still more each month, each conference I attend. Sensitive people who love the Lord, love words and stories and long to share those with others. Who use the gift of words to entertain and teach.

I’m thankful for their arms and words, lifting me when I’ve fallen.

And I pray I take my turn standing over the fallen, lifting them back up. Helping brush off the gravel of disappointment and the dirt of despair when the road chokes progress or turns the wrong direction.

il_570xN.692623393_4y0b[1]

Today, tomorrow, be a lifter. Lifting the fallen.

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. (Prov. 17:17)

Bullet Holes and Flying Horses

 

10252101_813397152021372_8833849954644142170_n[1]

“Um. Is that a bullet hole?”

Leslie and I stared at the egg-shaped hole in the first floor window of the white-paneled rental house we were staying in for the next two nights. We were stuck on the front porch, trying to get inside, torn between moaning and laughing.

I think we did both.

Around us, evening pressed away the day’s sunshine in quiet, quaint Millersburg, Kentucky. So far it had been a fun, whirlwind afternoon. After a short deplaning on my early morning flight from Tampa, my sweet Ohio friend picked me up in Dayton and drove us to Kentucky’s Creation Museum. We spent a couple of hours perusing the museum and the pretty gardens outside, enjoying the face-to-face time, already wishing for more.

From the Creation Museum we headed on another word-full, wonderful drive through gorgeous horse country to a little town outside Lexington where we’d stay for our weekend visit.

IMG_20140426_101910_931

We planned to spend Saturday at The Rolex, a three-day equestrian event held at the Kentucky Horse Park each April. Leslie had attended with her daughter a few years back, and the fact that we both loved horses and walking was reason enough to plan our only full day together around Saturday’s cross-country jumping event. We couldn’t wait to walk and talk and watch the magnificent horses run the course.

We arrived Friday night at the cute two-bedroom, one bath renovated home complete with kitchen, washer and dryer, and VRBO-approved “super comfy” couch (and it was, though I think even the lumpiest furniture is comfy when you’re around dear friends you can laugh with).

1512320_813420562019031_4758498642889163335_n[1]

From the small front porch that evening, Leslie and I eyed the unexpected bonus memento to our weekend home-away-from-home. A bullet hole in the front window.

IMG_20140426_195358_403

“I’m not sleeping in a room with a bullet hole in the window,” one of us mumbled. (Probably me. Leslie’s more daring than I am.)

From there, the problems piled on like fire ants on flip flops.

First we had trouble getting in touch with the owner of the house; there was a code to get inside and we still needed to make sure this was the correct house. Adding spice to our stuck-outside-rental-home-helplessness were the random men walking up and down Millersburg’s main street, obviously curious about our confused goings-on.

Friendly neighbors? We hoped so.

Then came an alarming comment from a local gas station clerk that “she’d gotten a call about that house, I think,” referring to the home we were to stay in. Finally, the number-out-of-service-message when we dialed up the Millersburg police station to inquire about the owner and the house was a bright red maraschino cherry-on-top of our evening.

The police station was out of service?

So, we giggled. We shook our heads, discussed sleeping in the car (many hotels in the area were booked because of the Rolex Event), and giggled some more.

Leslie reminded us to pray, and sure enough, the owner finally returned our calls with the code and an apology because the next-door-neighbor, who was supposed to give us the house code, wasn’t home that evening.

We finally settled into the cozy home, ate dinner and enjoyed a movie, a bag of Cadbury eggs, and much more chatting. Thankfully we could both sleep on the second (bullet-hole free) floor, so the questionable window decoration wasn’t a problem.

The next day was absolutely breathtaking – serene Kentucky horse-country surrounding us, spring blooming on the tree tops, and horses galloping toward jumps I could barely climb over with a ladder. The cross-country event was an amazing show of equine and human athleticism, with flying horses and pounding hooves.

jumppic

Leslie and I walked, talked, she laughed at me while I gawked at the multitude of horses and dogs (there were dogs everywhere!), and tried to take selfies during the beautiful day (which will never see the light of day). She gained a copy of my – gulp – (finally printed out, rewritten) fiction book and I gained a renewed love of flying (in an airplane, not on a horse).

And we both gained warm memories of bullet holes and flying horses.

What a gift God has given us in the laughter, care, and concern of the friends of our heart.

“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you…” Philippians 1:6