An advertisement for a trip to Yellowstone National Park

While driving to work on Thursday, my pre-dawn progress came to a standstill in a foggy bottom just south of a one-stop-light town not known for its traffic jams.

The fog and the darkness apparently contributed to a fender-bender, after which both drivers decided to leave their slightly damaged vehicles in the middle of the road.

I could see none of this, though I was less than 100 yards away when I came to a stop behind an electrician’s truck whose ladders and cables filled my field of vision for the next 10 minutes or so.

It seemed much longer.

In the early morning murk, the blinking lights I initially thought belonged to a couple of school buses turned out to be fire trucks. Small town fire departments generally don’t have much going on at 6:30 a.m., so the firemen were out in force in their heavy uniforms with the reflective bars, perhaps glad for something to do.

The fireman directing traffic let northbound traffic drive past for what seemed an interminable time: I counted more cars passing than I usually meet during the entire trip.

So, I sat in the dark, and watched the blinking lights, and took note of the electrician’s taped up ladders, and observed my automatic mileage calculator dipping lower and lower as the engine idled. Finally, I turned it off.

Eventually, southbound traffic was waved around. I discovered that I was only two vehicles back from the accident, but I hadn’t been able to see it.

Sometimes, life is like that.

Sometimes, we face roadblocks we don’t expect, obstacles we cannot see, dangers that come out of nowhere.

Later that morning, I learned that two women preparing lunches for the charitable “Meals on Wheels” program were attacked and stabbed in the kitchen of Lakeside Baptist Church in Rocky Mount, N.C. One of them died; the other is in critical condition. The assailant fled in his murder victim’s SUV. A later report says a suspect has been arrested and confessed to the crimes — and that the victims had tried to help him find a shelter and other help prior the senseless stabbings.

It was haunting to see images of a familiar church plastered with yellow crime scene tape, to know that I’ve eaten food prepared in that same kitchen, and probably crossed paths with the victims.

Lakeside, a longtime participant in the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, has been a stalwart supporter of social ministries and community service for years.

It was good to hear pastor Jody Wright tell the TV cameras that Lakeside has no intention of backing down from its commitment to active ministry, even though it can sometimes be risky business.

Bad things can happen anywhere, anytime, and with no apparent rhyme or reason. We would like to see far enough down the road to avoid all trouble, or at least see clearly enough to understand why it happens, but that isn’t the way life works in a world where people are free to choose evil as well as good.

While we cannot see as far or as clearly as we would like to see, however, we can see enough to take the next step, and we can know that we are not alone in the darkness.

Sometimes, that has to be enough.

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