Psalm 27 - A Christmas Message
The mountain road twisted and turned along the azure Caribbean coastline of St. Thomas Virgin Island. The sub-tropical undergrowth stretched into the road barely wide enough for two vehicles to pass. The clear turquoise waters lapped the white sand below. Up and down around and round like several carnival rides combined. Driving is on the left in the Virgin Islands, yet tourists and trucks and donkeys don’t seem to follow that rule. Dodging and weaving our way toward Red Hook, the car ferry harbor, turned into more than an adventure. The signage was negligible, and our timing close. We drove past the car ferry docks before we saw them and had to find a place to turn around safely on the twisting path.
After a steep hill and dip down, we made a three point turn around using the woods and absent shoulder. I narrowly dodged a car as I tried to head back up the steep incline trying to get back to the left lane from the right. Just as we reached the top and careened over, all time stopped in an explosive collision as we crashed head-on into an oncoming vehicle. The sound was deafening, the crush of steel and plastic, the explosion of air bags, the acrid smell of powder and burnt rubber. The pain of impact and twisting of body and material fast halted in a cloud of smoke and steam.
The haze lifted. I could see past the windshield to a wretchedly arrested car in my view. I was breathing hot venomous fumes. I turned to Pam, silent in the passenger seat. Dazed but, “I’m OK” she said. Really, she was badly shaken and bruised and traumatized.
I could get out of the car and stare ahead. All I saw first was the license plate facing me: “Ps 27”. “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?’ This first verse was bolstering and empowering. Yes, God was with us. As I looked through the windshield of the minivan ahead, I saw a woman, her dazed eyes staring at me. As I approached her open window, I asked her how she was and she said in native patois, “I think I’m OK.” She could not get out, as Pam joined me slowly. I spoke to her the first verse of Psalm 27 and she appeared to understand its significance through the rising smoke, steam and acrid stench of the collision.
I called 911 and soon people appeared and police, ambulances and foggy chaos in the otherwise sunny and beatific Caribbean afternoon as waves lightly lapped on the sandy shore below and goats grazed on the thick undergrowth beside the road.
We had survived and God said, Don’t be afraid, I am with you always, Immanuel.