It was a beautiful mid-afternoon on a summer day between my sophomore and junior years of high school. I had been working in the orchard since sunrise and was happy to now be hanging out with my friends in the parking lot of a local park. Shortly after I arrived, Ellen, a childhood friend of ours and the girlfriend of a long time buddy of mine who was there chatting with me, rode up on her bike. We all joked around for a few minutes before Ellen told us she needed to head home. The couple exchanged smooches, the gathered guys made smart aleck adolescent comments, Ellen smiled and rode off. Less than five minutes later, sirens began to wail. Ten minutes after that, all of us had heard the unbelievably tragic news: Ellen had been hit and killed as she was riding her bike home.
When I read the news of Bishop Cook of Maryland reportedly hitting and killing a cyclist, Thomas Palermo, it all came back as if it happened yesterday…
Once again, I was painfully reminded just how fragile life is.
A son, a husband, a father, a friend—killed in an instant. A daughter, a Bishop, and a friend – life changed forever.
We are all connected, as Paul tells the faith community in Corinth, “But the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it,” 1 Cor 12:25-26.
Inherent in our connectedness is the fact that our actions impact others. Ellen’s family and friends were devastated by the actions of the driver that killed her, but so was the driver and those close to him. Mr. Palermo’s family and friends are completely grief stricken by the alleged action of Bishop Cook and so, also, are her family and friends. We are all connected – and what we do and say, and the choices we make, impact others. Sometimes positively, other times, as in this case, tragically.
Life is fragile. And that is never more apparent than when we see how our choices and actions can have a far-reaching and significant impact on others.
Prayers for healing for all.