Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Prayer #1: Flat Tire, Lifted Spirit

Ash Wednesday started off with a *pop*, then a pssszzzzt, then a "Oh [expletive deleted, seeing as it's a holy day]".

Dad roused me from a deep sleep to share the news that my passenger rear tire was flat as a griddle on the driveway. 10 minutes later, groggy and frumpy, I held a flashlight in the early morning light, watched Dad fuss and fume at my sorely outdated jack, and wished I were back in bed.

One hour after that, AAA was at the door. They fixed the tire in a flash. And soon, I was bouncing off to work on the donut, marveling at how the best-laid plans so quickly go awry.

But in that marveling, I found my prayer of thanksgiving for today. Here it is:

Prayer #1: Flat Tire, Lifted Spirit

Lord, thank you for flat tires. I drive my life so quickly, that I sometimes need a road calamity to remind me of what's really consequential. A flat tire can't help but ground me. It forces me to sit, think, weigh my options, wait.

Waiting becomes uncomfortable, however. My mind is already onto the next task, the next set of logistics. And the disruption of my carefully planned day makes me fret. Where is my tow truck savior?

But I'm patient for AAA. I have no choice -- I depend on them for getting out in one piece. So why am I not as patient with you, you who promised always to come, and who doesn't rely on dispatch to find me?

The truth -- I fear the stop. I don't want to sit on the side of the road, alone with my thoughts. It's vulnerable sitting there, watching other cars whizz by, wishing I was out there with them, blaring my radio over the rush of wind.

Because if I don't keep it loud, if I don't keep it busy, if I don't keep it rushed, hurried, and dazed, then I might actually have to listen to you. I'll have to pay attention when you pull up next to me on the roadside, and offer a spare tire to get me home. Worse, I'll accept it, and then I'll owe you a favor.

But that's the beauty of your service, Lord. It's not quid pro quo. It's selfless. You give me exactly what I need when I need it most, and it lets me get on with my life.

All you ask in return is that when I get a flat tire, I call you. And when you give me a spare tire, I thank you.

Hmm. It would be much easier to pay an annual membership fee. But the road trip would be much less fulfilling. Funny how that works ...

Thank you for my time on the side of the road today, Lord. I remembered that life's little inconveniences are opportunities to open my eyes to new thoughts and experiences. I wouldn't have learned how to work a jack. I wouldn't have found the great mechanic's shop near work. And I certainly wouldn't have discovered how badly I need you.

Amen and alleluia!

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