Today for some reason, the phrase “Get there safely” has been on my mind. When I was in the police academy, we had a fair amount of training time behind the wheel. The mantra was “Get there safely”. Which pretty much meant, you can’t help anyone if you get in an accident. In other words, don’t drive outside of your abilities.
Over the years, I noticed that most of the squad accidents were mostly fender benders. There were the usual pedestrian (no pun intended) city traffic collisions. Sure they caused some damage, and an occasional injury and such, but they weren’t catastrophic in nature.
My two squad accidents were low speed events, and early on in my career. They both occurred on the graveyard shift and did not involve other vehicles. I once backed into a large bench on a golf course on a rainy night, which was a little embarrassing to report. The other occurred on an icy night while on my way to a hot call, the type of which I can’t remember. However, I do remember encountering glare ice on a curve in the road, and sliding into the curb at 30mph. It caved in one of my tires, and had to be towed to the City Garage. I got away with a nasty glare from my Sgt., who had to do the paperwork.
Though the major accidents in policing always draw attention, most squad accidents are relatively minor in nature. Very rarely did I have trouble “getting there safely”, though I did have some close calls. But in dementia, there is no getting there safely, because the damage is already done. There is a progression of the damage, though it’s rate can vary considerably, and can occur at a variety of different ages.
But there’s another kind of getting there safely, and it’s the one I’m most concerned with. I do my best to remain focused on my relationship with Christ, as I deal with the challenges of dementia. Our lives on this earth come with no guarantees of safety, and certainly, no explicit warranty. We all have our own accidents, our ailments and infirmities, and at times they can be pretty scary. But the kingdom that Jesus was talking about is the one that I’ve grown up with. I’ve come to know Jesus as others have, as the Great Physician.
Over time, however, I’ve studied other religions. And, as the old saying goes, there are no atheists in fox holes, whatever your religion. Whatever path you travel, and whatever tradition you embrace, each involves a journey on some kind of path. Each path that I’ve encountered seem to share some common goals. They all have a path on which to get there safely, and to love one another in the process. The many folks I’ve met have shared their journeys with me. We travel many common paths, whatever our faith traditions.
As our Episcopal Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry is fond of saying, “If it ain’t about love, it ain’t about God.” And without love, there’s not much room for safety. And so despite the seeming power of dementia, I continue on, focused on my journey.