Father Simeon Daly, OSB - Finding Grace in the Moment: Stories and other Musings of an Aged Monk


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Another Chance
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A group of us had gotten together to honor Dr. Joseph Thomas, who had just turned 90. He had given a little talk expressing the usual pleasantries, but his remarks included some rather dire concerns he felt for the direction our society was taking. Anyway the small group of gathered friends, mostly college professor type, was a bit subdued. We stood around doing what you do at receptions with hors d’oeuvres and drinks.

I was talking to a colleague. Both of us were rattling ice cubes, though neither of us had anything stronger than a coke. I brought up the topic of the death the day before of a 10 year old girl. It happened after the first day of school. A vivacious child, she had waved and shouted her good-byes to one and all, flew out the door, around the front of the bus, right into the path of an oncoming car The bus driver looked on in sheer horror. We were expressing out concern for the different ones. Regret for the little girl. Compassion for here family and friends. And distress for the young lady, 16 years old, who was at the wheel of the killer car.

She had just gotten her driver’s license. She had purposely stayed home late that morning, missing the bus, so she could drive to school. Now school was out and she was heading home with a carload of classmates. She failed to stop, though the school bus signals were all out and functioning. I was saying how horrible it must be for her, no matter how careless she may have been in the fateful moment. My companion became quite pensive and then said forcefully: “She won’t get a second chance!”

He went on to explain that no matter what the courts might say, or do, she will live with the tragedy for the rest of her life. Then, quite spontaneously, he added: “I got a second chance.” I am always struck by how peak moments make it easy to bare our souls. My friend went on to tell me this story.

“I was in college at the time and quite given to heavy drinking. I was living in West Virginia, at the time, where mountain roads were like corkscrews and valleys short and narrow. I drove intoxicated more than I care to admit. One night, a particularly nasty one, I had made the usual round with friends. I was driving, loaded. I had dropped off my last companion and headed for home over those treacherous roads. I could remember dropping off my buddy at his home. The very next things I knew, I was walking up the path to my house. Blackout!!—The great horror of a heavy drinker. How I had made that dangerous drive home, I’ll never know, but I was quick to express my gratitude. Before I entered my house I said: “Thank you, Lord! You’ve given me another chance, I’ll never do that again”

I’ll never do that again.” Then he held up his little paper cup and said: “That’s why I only drink this. I have not taken alcohol since. You see now my great sympathy for the young lady whose car took a life. I had a second chance. She won’t”
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