There is a God, and here is how I know.
I was driving my very small car on 1A, northbound toward Ipswich center. There’s that certain place, at the north end of the South Green, where the road swings to the left, and becomes South Main Street. I so swung.
But if you’re coming the opposite direction, from Ipswich center, on South Main, the road splits. You can keep bending to the right, if you want to stay on 1A and head south toward the Whittier, or Hamilton. Or, you can keep going straight, onto a tiny little stretch of asphalt that soon leads you to a stop sign, and then deposits you on Poplar Street.
The deadly problem is this: Do you realize, as you’re approaching this fork in the road, that if you go straight, toward Poplar, you’re actually crossing traffic? It’s true. If you bend to the right and head south on 1A, you’re safe. But what if you actually go straight — the way that “feels right” if you’re not from around here? The cars coming up from the south on 1A are barreling toward you with no reason to stop. No warning that you’re going straight, pretty as you please, unwittingly crossing traffic as you do so.
So here I am, in my very small car, heading north on 1A, beautifully bending to the west at the north end of the South Green, when I find a very large car heading east on South Main, and very definitely not taking the curve to stay on 1A. This fellow is going straight — toward Poplar Street — crossing traffic without realizing it. Pretty as you please.
In that split second before you die, your automatic HD-vision kicks in. I could see, in that moment of helplessness and anguish, this was a gray 2009 Toyota Sequoia SUV with a triangle of rust on the front left bumper, where perhaps a telephone pole had interfered with the vehicle’s progress on a snowy night a couple years ago. I could see that the driver was a slightly overweight young man with an inferior haircut, perfectly in style, and by the gleam in his eye I would say he was trying to impress his even younger girlfriend, a pretty brunette seated on the passenger side, exactly where I was about to make contact, in a most unpleasant way.
Theoretically, the SUV was going 25 mph maximum, because who would have the nerve to speed in such close proximity to the Ipswich police station on Elm Street? And theoretically, I was going 25 mph maximum, because I am a model citizen. The impact of two vehicles colliding at 25 mph can be calculated by the simple equation we all remember from high school math class, right? Kinetic energy is equal to one-half the mass times the velocity squared. To put it another way: This is going to be a huge mess.
There was no way the boy could stop his SUV in time. There was no way I could stop my very small car in time. This is where God comes in. The boy’s car screeched and swerved. My car swerved and screeched. In a magical moment, the boy driver and I looked into each other’s eyes, and both of us saw stupidity.
It is clear to me that there is God. The Town of Ipswich proves it. God lives and works on the north end of the South Green, where 1A curves away from Poplar Street. The Town of Ipswich also explains why there is suffering in the world. There is suffering in the world because God is busy elsewhere. He is largely consumed with preventing crashes on the north end of the South Green, where 1A curves away from Poplar Street.
It is a privilege to live here. It would be remarkable enough for the question of God’s existence to be settled by a small town in New England. Or for the question of why there is suffering in the world to be settled by a small town in New England. But for both questions to be settled by the same small town in New England is really something.
Ipswich, I salute you. Er, us. Whatever. I’m still rattled by that near miss.
Doug Brendel, after falling short in his campaign to become Pope, ponders great religious truths at his home on outer Linebrook. He can be reached via Outsidah.com.