The glare of the morning sun caused me to pull down the visor as I drove into work. My windshield was in need of a good cleaning. The pollen and remnants of insects paired against a washed out cloudless sky put the surroundings in a light haze.
Springtime had arrived. Time had shifted and this particular stretch of highway climbed upward, directly into the sun. Circumstances being what they were, it was not unusual for traffic to slow to a crawl.
But on this morning, the crawl became a stop. Years of this daily commute has taught me those three lanes coming to a complete stop means one thing only: a wreck.
All three lanes were still. Each line pointed toward the morning sun. The shadow of the first car fell upon the second car and so on down the line.
We squinted and glanced toward our watches and clocks, silently calculating how much time was passing and hoping that whatever the delay beyond the rise in the road ahead would not make us late for work.
I switched the radio from the news of terror and despair around the world to whatever CD was in the player. It had been so long since I had actually listened to music on the drive to work that I had forgotten what would be awaiting me.
The speakers were silent but just for a moment. And then the soft notes of a single piano player took me back to a familiar and favorite tune. A voice started to sing: “When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me.” I felt my body relax. “Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.” A calm came over me.
But the silence and calm were broken by the blaring sound of sirens. I glanced at my rearview mirror and speeding toward me on the inside shoulder was an ambulance. A dirt cloud swirled around as it passed in a hurry. “And in my hour of darkness, she is standing right in front of me. Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.”
Ambulances are routinely sent to accident locations, just in case they are needed. I had seen them so many times that they had become part of the commute scenery.
The lines moved a few feet. We took our place in the shadow of the one in front of us, making sure that the distance was close but not too close. Far enough away to give the impression that we all were paying attention and being considerate to the other drivers behind us.
Stopped once again, still aiming toward the sun, my attention went back to the song. In the distance, again, a siren blared.
A quick glance in the same mirror as before caught a glimpse of flashing lights and a police car passing quickly on the shoulder. “Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be. Whisper words of wisdom. Let it be.”
Another siren. Another vehicle. This time, a fire truck. It passed by in the same urgent way as the others who came before it. “And when the brokenhearted people, living in the world agree, there will be an answer. Let it be”
The line began to move slowly. We reached the crest of the hill. Before us was a sight that shook my soul. “For though they may be parted, there is still a chance that they will see. There will be an answer. Let it be.
“Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be. There will be an answer. Let it be.”
Lights of red and blue swirled from atop the emergency vehicles ahead, flashing upon our faces, mixed with the bright sunshine. A big truck blocked the middle or the road. Beyond it, the crumpled remains of what once was a passenger car. The back door of the ambulance closed and it sped away, carrying the injured to safety.
“And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light that shines on me. Shine on until tomorrow. Let it be.”
The blue lights of the police car in the middle of the road let us know to divide into separate lanes, passing along either side of the moment of tragedy.
I chose the left side. Others went right. But each line passed slowly, with full recognition of what had just occurred over the rise in the road we had previously been stopped upon. Some were humbled. Some were angered at the inconvenience.
“I wake up to the sound of music. Mother Mary comes to me. Speaking words of wisdom. Let it be.”
Each car in succession accelerated rapidly, continuing our journey that morning, almost as if nothing had happened.
The scene was no longer in front of us but was growing smaller and smaller in our rearview mirrors. But the scene was still tragic for those involved who could not move forward from that spot on the road.
I arrived at my destination, right on time. Without delay. Without a struggle. I thought about what I had seen and I thanked the good Lord that I was safe. But on this day, in the blink of an eye, with a flash of light and the blare of sirens, it was not the same for others.
“Let it be. Let it be. Yeah. Let it be. Let it be. Whisper words of wisdom. Let it be.”
Brent Davis is a lifelong resident of Benton and Saline County. The Courier has been part of his life for as long as he can remember. He is a graduate of Benton High School. His column appears twice a week: on Fridays on Page 3 of The Saline Courier and on www.bentoncourier.com , and on the Opinion Page in Sunday’s edition of The Saline Courier.