In the blink of an eye our lives can change
It's just a little over a year since I started working as a hospital chaplain. It's been a life-changing experience and every day there is something new to learn.
The kindness, the goodness, the love that I get a glimpse of on a daily basis gives me a little insight into the potential of the human spirit. People do amazing things.
But I have also come face-to-face with how fragile we are. Things can change at the blink of an eye. We can easily think we are masters of our lives. What a silly thought. Our lives hang by a thread.
Earlier this month a friend recounted how he had come across a motorbike accident. He arrived on the scene shortly after it had happened and saw the dead man on the ground with his leg sheared off. It was a horrific experience for him.
As he spoke to me I was aghast with the event. It forcibly brought home to me our fragility. And yet we can easily distance ourselves from such horror, thinking that it could never happen to us. I was close to being that man.
Monday September 25 was a fabulous day in Dublin. The perfect Indian summer type of day. Full tide in Dublin was at 2.15 so I decided to head for a swim at Seapoint. I hadn't been on my motorbike for some time so decided to don the gear and bike it to the sea.
Getting there by motorbike makes it so easy, no traffic jams and then when you arrive you can park the bike right beside the water.
Okay, that initial getting into the water requires a moment of bravery/madness but once in, honestly the water was balmy. It was a perfect September day for a swim. Indeed, my father always believed that September was the best month to swim in the sea as the water still has the heat of the summer in it. There's something in that.
Back into the motorbike gear and heading home. I was a little nervous as the bike had done some 'spluttering' on the way out and I had to be home for an appointment later in the day. It would take me about 20 minutes to get home.
I'm no Evil Knievel so with the bike sounding a bit dodgy all I wanted was to get home. Perish the thought of the bike breaking down in the middle of the road.
On the way home I pushed the visor on the helmet up over my head. At a busy junction the lights turned to green and I pulled off, which meant accelerating and just as I did the visor fell back down on to my face. It slipped in such a way that the perspex part was not flush with my eyes so I was left completely blinded.
I had to stop the bike immediately, not having a clue if there was a car right behind me and no idea where I was on the road. It was an unbelievable moment of horror and for a second or two I was sure I was a 'gonner'.
I later saw there was a car right behind me and luckily she or he was driving carefully and slowly. Even now, a week later thinking about it, I am scared. I was incredibly lucky - unlike the unfortunate man whom my friend saw.
In the blink of an eye our lives can be changed for ever. It's as if we hang on by a thread, and most of the time never realising it.