Today, as I drove by the place where the man died, his blood was no longer there. The rains have carried it away. It is early Monday morning. I sit at my desk with a hundred things that I need to get done, yet all things need to wait for just a moment.
It was 5:00am. On my early morning drive to work, I descended a ramp to the highway and came across the eerie scene. A bus was stopped with its flashing yellow lights, warning drivers to be cautious. Just 150 feet beyond the bus was the motionless, unoccupied green tow truck. And in-between was a lifeless, bloodied man, lying face down in the road. A policeman, who must have arrived by foot, was surveying the scene, as his flashlight penetrated the dark shadows, looking for answers.
Traffic continued to drive by. I continued to drive by. This is the 5th body I have seen in the road in my 4 years in Nairobi. The freshness of the event plays back scenes in my mind from a different day. On this drive from the airport, an ambulance blocked one of the lanes of traffic. Twenty feet beyond the ambulance the uncovered body lay and another twenty feet beyond him one of his shoes had come to rest. Presumably, he had attempted to cross multiple lanes of traffic on the busy highway, and was struck. The ambulance must have been waiting for the police to arrive and survey the scene before loading the body.
Death here is not covered, sanitized, or tidy. The sting of it remains opened and exposed, but life goes on, right amongst the dying. Cars continue to drive along and people continue on with their business. There is no rush to cover the body. Heavy traffic and reluctant drivers, who are unable to move aside, or do not want to lose their place in traffic, make ambulances painfully slow in arriving to the scene. Life goes on, seemingly inoculated by the frequency of death on the streets.
Starting to write this morning, I was unsure of why I needed to write or what I would even say. But now, as I type, the Lord has helped me bring my cloud of thoughts and emotions that swirl about, to the heart of the matter. My writing illuminates to my own eyes what had remained hidden.
Before starting my list of a hundred “to dos” today. Before getting on with the busyness of life again, I just want to say, “I acknowledge you who were cut down last week in the early morning hours. Your blood may have washed away from the place where you laid, but I acknowledge you. And I acknowledge you who died while trying to cross the road. You who tied your shoe in the morning, but then lost it upon impact. You, and the others I have seen alongside the road, are special. You are made in the image of God and I acknowledge your lives. And before I start my hurried day, I want you to know, I acknowledge each one of your departures from this world.