The wind today in the Land of Pilgrims is ferocious, Reader. The remnants of a storm that woke me with insisting fingernails of rain tapping my window at 5 this morning sweep through the valleys between buildings on this campus, whirling up the tower past my office window. It whistles through the top notch I can never close because I can’t quite reach it.
It is a day in which I’m very glad I’ll be getting in my car and driving home for a little while before a concert.
This has not been the week I planned, not at all. For the first time in a while I had several evenings in a row without meetings or obligations, evenings I planned to spend blissfully curled up with my laptop while I cursed my characters in this first week of NaNoWriMo. I did end up getting to do some of that, but I also got to spend several days carless and worrying about repairs.
I live in a small city, Reader, where there is public transportation but it’s not the most efficient or user-friendly. It is not an automatic assumption here like it is in New York or Chicago or London. This is still very much car country, and as a single person who lives alone and has a pretty crazy schedule I rely very heavily on my car. No bus gets to all the places I go, so when I don’t have a car, I lose a lot of freedom.
By freedom, I mean independence.
How American a statement! I remember my father’s father adamantly insisting he could drive in his later years even though he was going blind and deaf and had a heart that never decided on a regular rhythm. He knew that losing his license would make him, culturally speaking, baggage; an old leftover ferried around by his family, a burden, an afterthought. He was an incredibly independent and stubborn man and he fought that loss until the doctors themselves said no more, we cannot allow you on the roads. It was a point of some soreness for the rest of his life—which was a little less than a decade.
No one plans for their car to fall apart. Mine is old (but don’t tell her) and has certainly been ill-used. This summer alone we travelled together some 9,000 miles in about 4 1/2 months; she has been put through her paces, as have I, and it’s showing in some of the repairs I have to do. But when they crowd together, demanding to be heard in clanking rumbles of discontent; when the repairman say we will have to do this, and this, and this, and this…Reader, I get so frustrated.
Part of it is that I am frustrated I can’t fix this myself. I pride myself on being able to do little fix-its and delight in around-the-house type jobs. I like knowing how things are put together; when I was a kid, I would exasperate my mother by pulling apart her pens to see if they all had the same pieces and then putting them back together with mixed success, depending on whether or not I’d lost the spring in the deconstruction process. She started using a lot more pencils until I was old enough to be able to handle the concept of keeping all the parts.
But I don’t understand cars, and specifically I don’t understand my car. I haven’t had the chance to pull up in a driveway and pop the hood to just explore the engine; I haven’t taken the time to crawl underneath with a book or a friend and memorize the chassis layout. It irks me, Reader, that I fit the stereotype of the clueless female who walks into a mechanic’s shop and has no idea why there’s an upper and lower engine mount.
It’s also frustrating because, for the several days that I didn’t have my car, I had to rely on other people. The horror! The outrage! The humility of it! Oh, Reader, how amazing it is to see all the places in my life that I still stay, “No, I’ve got this, I’m okay” even when asking for help is the most logical thing to do. One of my coworkers lives literally across the street from me; she was more than okay with ferrying me around for a few days, especially since the only places I went were work, home, and the shop. I’ve no doubt that it would have been a bit different if I had had several meetings I needed to attend, but even that could have worked. After all, have I not done the same for her in the many times she’s had car trouble? I didn’t think anything of it because I understood that this was something she needed and I was in a position to help her out; no worries.
Yet when the positions are flipped, ALL THE WORRIES.
Oh, how much I want to know everything and be able to do it all by myself, to walk around on my own two feet and drive on my own four wheels and need nothing and no one.
Until the wry voice of God whispers, Even Me? I was not created to know everything; I was not made to do all things by myself. Even Jesus wasn’t master of all trades; He was a carpenter’s Son Who wasn’t as good at fishing as Peter or at accounting as Matthew. And that was fine, because He was good at His thing—He was very good at His thing, thankfully. But His thing wasn’t every thing, and if freaking Jesus didn’t do everything, what makes me think I can or should?
No, little one, it is grace to be in relationship with others. (Even though it’s really great to have my car back.)
But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. (Luke 10:33-34, ESV)