It is truly amazing how life can turn on a dime. I remember the song "New York Minute" by Don Henley from the 1980s. The lyrics referred to how fast life can change. If you aren't familiar with it the chorus is "In a New York Minute/Everything can change. In a New York Minute/Things can get a little strange/In a New York Minute/Everything can change in a New York Minute".
Those lyrics popped into my head when I thought of the events that have made the news in the past few weeks. In seconds, two depraved bombers destroyed the lives of literally hundreds of people whose only crime was standing in the wrong place to watch the Boston Marathon. In an instant, innocent victims lives were stolen or changed forever by this heinous act which resulted in four days of terror for those living in Massachusetts.
Now almost three weeks later, a life changing event of a different sort took place. On Monday evening, a miraculous phone call was placed to dispatchers in Cleveland by a woman named Amanda Berry who managed to convince neighbors to get her out of her captor's house. This heroine called 911 and in the process created a miracle when she and the two women with her as well as a young girl were rescued by police and returned to their families after ten years of captivity. Ten years!
Ten years ago, I was preparing to marry my wife. Ten years ago, was three jobs ago for me. What about you? That is an incredible time for someone to be held captive let alone three women and Berry's daughter. The neighbors had no clue this was occurring. What is even more disturbing is this is not the first case of this type of abduction. I read the haunting memoir of Jaycee Dugard who was held captive by Phillip Garrido who repeatedly raped her, abused her and brainwashed her for 18 years while parole officers and police were within several feet of where she was hidden from view in a backyard shed. This animal fathered a daughter with Jaycee in that time and was protected by his wife Nancy. Fortunately, he has been sentenced to 431 years in prison while his wife received a 36 year to life sentence that will keep her behind bars until she is well into her 70s.
This is incredible and the similarities are frightening. In both cases, these criminals managed to keep their victims locked away and cleverly diverted people from their hidden captives. In the case of this trio of women, one of these evil people actually helped hunt for one of the girls that he was responsible for abducting and then was friends with the girl's father the whole time. How sick is that?
For these three families, a miracle has truly touched them. The sad truth is that for these three women who have been rescued, there are thousands each year that totally vanish. How many more innocent babies are locked away by evil people and raped and brainwashed who never see their freedom again? How many more Jaycee Dugards and Amanda Berrys are out there desperately trying to get away from their captors.
Fortunately in this case, this New York Minute had a happy ending as police swiftly responded to rescue these poor women and the daughter and return them to their families. I'm sure this will be micro-examined and backseat driven to death, but for now, we should rejoice that three families have been reunited with their children and three monsters are in prison.
It is interesting to note that almost everything monumental appears to happen in a "New York Minute". Just think of what you were doing on September 11, 2001 at 8 a.m. How did your life change in those precious minutes when two jets destroyed the World Trade Center and killed almost 2800 people? For many of us in this area, we either lost someone we knew or knew someone who was injured. For all of us, our rights were curtailed for the sake of public safety supposedly because we valued our security over our liberty. Was it right to do that? I think everything has at least two different perspectives. In some cases, I would say sure it was the right thing to do. But in another sense, did we truly want to compromise our freedom for security? I don't know.
I think life in general is a continuum that is punctuated by New York Minutes. While these examples are quite extreme, I'm sure you can think of your own "New York Minute" when everything familiar changes. Some of my "New York Minutes" included when I barely escaped a car crash, when a plane I was flying into Atlanta almost crashed on the runway, when my wife Katie agreed to marry me, the loss of our son and the birth of our daughter.
While the events in this column were a bit more somber, I think it helps for us to reflect upon our New York Minutes both good and bad and what they teach us. Everything can be a lesson to help us grow. In my case those events taught me some important things. The car accident taught me how fragile my life truly is, the plane mishap was a lesson in trusting another person, my wife taught me that I can be loved, my son taught me how God's love can heal us in times of sadness while my daughter shows me every day the wonder of life and its mysteries. Take some time today and figure out what your "Minutes" mean to you.
Til next time…