It was a moment that crystallized in my memory, but for greater reasons than our accident’s painful experience.
After arriving in Koh Tao, Gloria and I had decided it would be cheaper to avoid the taxis – it was more me than her, really. Those motorbikes, innocently parked only steps away from our bungalow, had beckoned me with low rental fees. What a money-saver, I thought. My parents would have been proud at my comparative consumerism. We signed the waiver forms and rode off, dismissing the lady’s concerned yet knowing looks when we said we had never driven one before.
3 hours and a couple watermelon shakes later, I drove the bike into the ground. Like so many other overambitious backpackers, our knees and elbows quickly became acquainted with dirt, gravel and sharp rocks. Suddenly, my vision of proud parents vanished.
The accident happened within a matter of seconds. As soon as I had lost control of the bike, I knew we would both sustain injuries. Time would tell how major they would be. What surprised me, though, was not that I got into an accident but how quickly and genuinely people responded to our time of need. Before we could even get off the ground and react to what had happened, a half dozen people surrounded us. A French couple pulled over on their own bike (Europeans, apparently, are better at riding these scooters). An off-duty police office across the street rushed to our side. Three local Thai women came from inside their shops with bandages and cleaning alcohol in hand. No one took a photo on their smartphone. Each of their faces communicated fear, concern, worry. But most poignantly, they communicated love. And there, despite the searing pain of lacerated skin and bleeding, raw flesh, I somehow found myself in a place of peace.
As I took in this unfolding scene, a singular thought kicked up to the surface and signaled its emergence: this must be God’s creation in right relationship with each other, if only for a moment. There were no misinterpreted motives, no misconstrued actions, no selfish desires, only man helping his neighbor without regard to class, status or ethnicity. Remarkable and confounding, our experience was a modern snapshot of the good Samaritan. It was “a paradise built in hell” (Rebecca Solnit). Much like Jesus’ parable and the personal accounts of the Great Fire of San Francisco, this moment afforded us a glimpse of humanity as God intends. Broken as humanity may be, it seems that the human psyche is still somehow hardwired – created – with the potential to respond to need. Some might call this responsibility. Whatever it is, we often don’t see it enough these days.
Oh, how we need more of Christ to fill us with His Spirit and empower us to love responsibly from moment to moment! What a day it will be when Christ comes to redeem and restore our humanity.
Thankfully, Gloria and I weren’t seriously injured. No broken bones, just some very deep, slow-healing wounds. For several days, we stayed in the shade and read books. We stared at the small waves rising and falling along the beach, as if to taunt us for our forced expulsion from the water. And we thanked God for His grace.