My First DWI

A few days ago, I published a blog entitled How I’d Like to Die. In that posting, I mentioned a funeral I was preparing to conduct later that morning. I never followed up on that day, so now might be a good time.

As I was driving to the funeral in the gloom of that blustery day, I was doing what I usually do when traveling to such an event. I was thinking very intentionally about the Scripture passages I was going to use and what I was going to say in a few short moments. I was also very intentional about getting to the funeral home on time.

“Something caught my attention.”

As I was approaching the mortuary, something in my rear view mirror caught my attention. As I focused on this new distraction, my finely honed instincts told me the flashing blue lights were atop the vehicle of one of our local gendarmes. With cat-like reflexes, I deftly found a place to pull off and let him by to chase after the unseen perpetrator of an undoubtedly vicious crime.

Lo and behold, he also pulled off (right behind me). At that point, I looked for the fire truck or some other emergency vehicle for which he felt it necessary to clear the roadway. Much to my surprise and curiosity, none were forthcoming.

Then it hit me. I was the subject of his traffic stop. Oh, the humanity! The only thing I could think of was getting to the funeral on time. It could have been the equivalent of being late for my own funeral.

“The road to Hell…”

As it turns out, he had clocked me going 50 mph in a 35 zone. My intentions had been good (to get to the facility in plenty of time). But I got busted. He had me dead to rights. My first DWI (Driving While Intentional)…

There’s an old saying that goes, “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” I had been intent on Scripture, intent on the homily, and intent on getting to my destination in good time. If only I had been intent on paying attention to the speed limit. Apparently, the road to funerals is paved with good intentions as well.

Interestingly enough, the police provide escorts for funeral processionals in that town. When the funeral was over, I came out to my vehicle (which was positioned right behind the hearse). Wouldn’t you know it? The same cop who pulled me over was leading the processional. I attempted to avoid eye contact. It was a tad embarrassing.

I’m not sure I’ll ever learn. As they say, I’m old enough to know better (but apparently, I don’t). When I’m intent on something else, I tend to become oblivious to things like road signs.

Once Jesus accused the Pharisees of not being able to interpret the signs of the times. (Matthew 16:3) I hope I’m a tad better at those. Signs can be important. Maybe I’ll be a little more intentional about checking those out.

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]

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