Sunday, December 09, 2007


I remember reading and pondering the details that detained people from getting to work on time on September 11, 2001. One woman got a run in her pantyhose so she ducked into a drug store to buy another pair. Someone else missed a ride, another had a child care issue.

Simple, mundane annoyances. Little tweaks in our well-made plans. Is there a day that goes by that doesn't have its share of script changes? Some chafe and make us grit our teeth -- others are just mere bumps that we barely notice.

Those little bumps saved several lives on September 11th.

I'm very aware that those who died or were injured weren't saved by minute details and that maybe they were in the the line of fire because of a tedious series of circumstances and choices. I also struggle with the eternal weight of that statement.

When a September 11 happens, when a December 5th happens, I can't help but stop and wonder about the details in my life and the God behind them. How many situations have ended up benign by mere seconds? On the flip side, how many things have gone bad because one foolish choice eventually rolled into a huge snowball hurtling down the mountain of bad ideas?

Life is in the details. Yes. Never more true than while pondering the circumstances of a tragedy.

Friends and relatives shared the following stories. I know at least one person in each story. Two of the people, if circumstances were been different, would've left large holes in my life.

A mother feels the sudden need to pray for her grown son -- specifically that he'll be sensitive to God's prodding. Minutes later the son wanders in the men's department at Von Maur. After speaking with a salesman, the son wanders toward suits. The thought that the suits will be too expensive flits through his mind and he reverses his course and heads toward the mall entrance. As he walks down the corridor he hears construction noise. A nail gun? But the reality of the sounds soon becomes very clear.

A doctor spends her morning off running errands and looking for Christmas gifts. The hospital pages her yet again. A patient, anxious to get home, needs to see her as soon as possible. She calls the hospital and tells them she'll make one more stop and be right there. Across the crowded store, the doctor sees an old friend. Torn by the decision -- strike up a lengthy conversation or get to her patient -- she chooses to leave and take care of her patient.

A twenty-two year old girl's cell phone rings. Normally, she doesn't answer when she's in a hurry, but she does on December 5th. A friend, wondering if they could get together. It works for both their schedules, so the friend puts off going to Von Maur. Christmas shopping was Plan B, but since her friend answered the phone, Plan A won out for the day.

Three people who weren't in the line of fire because of little details. Circumstances that seemed so insignificant may have saved their lives.

Thank you, God, for being mindful of little details. Help us to trust you. And comfort those who mourn.