The origin of this statement was one John Bradford, an English Protestant martyr, who uttered these words in the 16th century while watching fellow Protestants being led to the scaffold. The actual phrase was "There but for the grace of God goes John Bradford".
This statement has come to be used when one is counting one's blessings as compared to others less fortunate/the fate of others.
Note above I wrote "...and English Protestant martyr..."; unfortunately for Mr. Bradford, his good luck did not hold out and he was ultimately burned at the stake as a heretic.
Anyway, this sentiment popped into my head this morning as I returned from dropping The Kid off at school.
The route we always take, 15/501 to either the Erwin Road or Cornwallis exit, was as usual, heavily trafficked this morning. Mr. B had commented a few days ago that he'd noticed people were going considerably slower there due to increased cop visibility. In other words, the traffic cops had been targeting this stretch to pull people over. A good thing, as, despite the fact it is a 55 mph zone, folks routinely go almost 80 mph. Today, however, it seemed to me that people were once again driving with no consideration given to the speed limit.
It takes roughly 20 minutes to get from the exit, to The Kid's school, and back onto 15/501 heading home. When I got back onto 15/501, I immediately noticed a lot of flashing lights on the other side of the road (e.g., where we'd been 20 minutes earlier) and that eerie emptiness of traffic (because everyone was backed up behind the flashing lights). As I approached, it was hard not to notice the throng of tangled up cars turned every which way, all of the ambulances, fire trucks, police cars, etc. For about 1/4 of a mile behind the flashing lights, there were even more cars that were apparently caught up in the frey. And, the backed up traffic stretched for at least a mile behind THAT.
Probably some idiot yakking away on their cell phone (or, worse, text messaging) caused this, or maybe more than one; combined with other people going way too fast. A deadly mixture, indeed.
So, yeah; but for the grace of God, we could have been caught up in that nightmare; either hurt (or worse) at the very worst to simply being stuck in a traffic blockade that, from the looks of it, could well have lasted more than an hour while they cleared the road.
What IS it that kept us from being involved while others (likely most of the people involved were doing nothing but driving to their destination while listening to NPR or something) were caught up in it? If we'd left the house just a few minutes later, we might have been caught up in it; no, we WOULD have been (it was pretty obvious to me that the accident occurred not long after we passed through, given that the ambulances, fire trucks, etc. were already there by the time I was headed back home).
God, guardian angels, fate, luck; whatever you chose to believe, kept me and The Kid alive today. I'm thankful, yes indeed. However, this is also one of those things that you cannot dwell upon overly much; for, as with the unfortunate Mr. Bradford, at what point will the grace be gone?