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The space shuttle has landed safely (September 21), but with the discovery of mysterious dark objects that seemed to have fallen from it, I was reminded once again of human frailty and human fallibility. One day earlier this month, I jotted down several incidents suggestive of the uncertainty inherent in earthly life:

  • In the van on the way to Midway airport in Chicago, I spied a sign reading “Accident Investigation Site.” Now this was not a makeshift notice put up helter-skelter after a crash, but a permanent highway sign. Not far beyond the sign was the site itself, where one could pull or push one’s bashed vehicle off the road. Was the highway department letting us know that accidents were the normal expectation in this location, so that they were consecrating a place in perpetuity on the expressway for investigating them?
  • We drove on past, and before long, a truck pulled up alongside us on the right. Written in large letters on its side was the word “Oremus” — let us pray. Yes, indeed, pray so as not to be a beneficiary of the Accident Investigation Site. I

In the airport, two announcements over the public address system caught my attention:

  • “A cap has been left at the security checkpoint. Please check your head to see if you are wearing your cap.”
  • “John Smith [or some such ordinary-sounding individual], please return to security. Your bag needs to be inspected.”
    If Mr. Smith had really been carrying explosives in his bag, I wondered, would he heed the call to return? At that point he might have decided it would be just as well to initiate the first terrorist attack of an American men’s room.
  • Last, but perhaps not least, were the safety instructions by the Southwest Airlines cabin attendant. She concluded: “If you are traveling with a child put your own mask on first, and then put the mask on your child. If you are traveling with two children, it’s time to decide which one you like best!”

All in all: “Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 124:8).

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