Advent. Day 7 of 24.
As we drove home from the gym yesterday morning at around 7:15am, there was an unusual backlog of traffic along the Danforth. One of the reasons why we go so early is to get to and from without hitting traffic. But yesterday, in the early pitch dark morning, the street was jammed with vehicles. We were stuck. I selfishly complained, as I almost always do, about always finding myself in a traffic jam no matter where or when it is.
But once we got to Woodbine, we saw a zillion cop cars and ambulances all surrounding the subway station. I then sadly stated that someone must have jumped, the traffic broke up, we drove home, and went about our days.
Then after work when our teen-aged daughter gets home, she proceeds to tell us about how brutal it was to subway to school that morning because there was a ‘jumper’. We knew exactly what she was talking about.
I then started thinking about that and felt so deeply sad.
I was sad because someone felt that life was so empty that they decided to end it by jumping in front of a speeding subway train.
I felt sad realizing that it could have been anyone. It could have been a teenager kicked out of their home by their ‘so-called’ Christian parents because they were gay or transgendered, a middle aged married person who had been laid off that day, someone who is older and has no community, someone being bullied at work or school or in cyberspace, someone feeling persecuted because of their skin colour or religion, someone feeling that no one cares. It could have been anyone.
I felt sad for the person’s family and friends.
I felt sad for the subway driver who has to live with the memory of watching someone jump in front of his or her train and being powerless to do anything about it.
I felt sad for my daughter and her friends who know about suicide and depression and think of ‘jumpers’ as another part of their daily lives like it’s a normal part of city living.
I felt so very sad by it all.
In this Advent season, I don’t want to assume that suicide is just part of life.
I want to imagine and work towards a world where no one feels that alone and desperate.
I want to befriend the friendless, welcome strangers, feed hungry people, give water to someone who is thirsty, visit folks who can’t come to where I am for any number of reasons. I want everyone, no matter what, to feel loved and included and special.
I long for that this Advent season.
Come Lord Jesus.