Don’t be surprised that it feels freeing to youngsters, too. Bike riding, scooter scooting, just plain running, throwing and catching balls, skimming stones – there are all kinds of new fresh air activities that return with spring.
I was, sadly, reminded of my responsibility with all this outdoors freedom. I was, I’m ashamed to say, stopped for speeding on Route 100. Going way too fast in the 40 mph zone, and in the 25 mph zone, too! What was I thinking? I was, as usual in a hurry, and although I wasn’t distracted by a cell phone or a text message, I was dazzled by sunshine and fresh air. I have to admit it. And then, suddenly behind me, blinking blue lights.
The police person said, “I waved at you, not because I was being friendly, but to slow you down !” What could I say to that?
The theologian Frederich Buechener has written that most rules or laws, reasonable rules or laws, are for us to pay attention to. He uses the example of the law of gravity – we know that law, and probably there aren’t many of us who would test it out by stepping out of a third-story window! “Keep out, Beware of the dog” is a good rule to follow, too, unless you enjoy the feeling of dog teeth on your person. The law of gravity is (so far) unchanging. The rule about keeping out holds true for as long as it is true. Gravity is a God-made law; “keep out” is a man-made one.
God’s laws are life or death laws. Keep these laws and live, God told the people of Israel.
Man made laws, very often life or death laws. Perhaps not as final or all encompassing as God made laws, but very often made for our safety or for the safety of the people among whom we live.
Speed limit laws are, truly, life or death laws. They may not seem to apply one hundred percent of the time; we can sometimes “get away with” going faster than we should or passing in a no passing zone. But there’s that one time, that one unexpected time, when broken traffic rules lead to tragedy. In that one unexpected moment, they become life or death laws. They’re made for our safety and the safety of the people among whom we live –and so, the best thing is to obey them.
We may think that whoever decided the speed laws was an old fuddy-duddy who moves too slowly for us ….but how thankful we will be when we avoid hitting a pedestrian because we were going slowly enough, obeying the speed limit. It’s similar to the way many people think that God made laws: “you shall not steal, honor your father and mother, do not covet your neighbor’s property” are old-fashioned and out-of-date laws. But how much better life is when we obey them.
So. My apologies to all of you among whom I live, whose safety was endangered by my foolish actions. And thank you to the Wilmington police for the reminder that most laws lead us from carelessness to carefulness, from inattention to attention. I promise to slow down.
Every week, God has issued an invitation to each of us to slow down, to savor the world we live in, to turn our attention to the one who is the creator. It may be more than an invitation; it may be one of those rules that is made for our own safety and for the good of those among whom we live. I invite you to attend a time of worship this week, and take an hour to contemplate holiness, and to slow down.
Rev. Dr. Marcia Dorey is pastor of the Halifax Union Society.