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One Easter, just before dawn, I was wakened by the persistent rapping of a state police officer at my door. He apologized for the intrusion and then told his tragic news. Some time during the night, Fred, a member of the parish, had run his car off the road, struck a tree, and been killed.
"Apparently he fell asleep," the officer suggested. "He was alone." No liquor was involved. In fact, the car was full of Easter candy and toys.
It wasn't difficult to fill in the story. Unable to find work locally, Fred reluctantly had become a long-haul trucker. Though the pay was good, he hated the days away from home. He pushed to complete each run so he could spend as much time as possible with his wife and children.
Arriving at the truck terminal late that Saturday night, he had put presents for his children in his car and begun the fifty-mile drive home. On this night the fatigue had proved too great. Just ten miles short of his goal, he had fallen asleep. A few hundred feet later, his life ended when his car found an oak tree.
The police officer asked me to go with him to break the news to Fred's wife. "I just can't take that candy and those presents to her by myself," he said. So Easter began with a 4 A.M. ride to share a tragedy.
By grace I made my way through the worship services later that morning. Easter night I went with Fred's wife to choose a casket. I returned to stand with her at the calling hours Monday and to conduct the service on Tuesday. Knowing her friends and family would likely return to their own homes after a day or two, I visited her and the children Friday morning. Finally she had gotten angry. I sat with her while she railed at the "rotten God" who took away her husband-and as that same God began filling her with healing grace.
Back home, my weariness overtook me. I tried to work on the sermon for Sunday-to no avail. I simply didn't have the energy.
After lunch I decided to take a break and plant the seeds I'd originally planned to sow Easter Monday. Worn out ...