The truth is, sometimes there is no connecting thought, no common thread. Except that this is what I noticed, today.
I thought about the fact that we need to replace some aspect of the left front axle on the Passat, the CV joint or boot or something, as I was driving home on Interstate 5. The Les Schwab guys reminded us of this when they rotated the tires — I say reminded because Zack texted me from their waiting area to ask if we’d known this already? Hadn’t we had that axle replaced already? And after looking at the paperwork I’d kept, I was able to confirm that no, we had replaced the other side and yes, we had been informed of this problem in July when we spent a few hundred dollars just so the mechanics could tell us what needed to be fixed.
The gentleman who changed the oil that same day last week told me as I paid that the transmission fluid on the truck was dirty. This strikes me as significant somehow, perhaps because (a) I do know basically what the transmission does, but I don’t know exactly why it has fluid, (b) I am not sure what the intended color of said fluid is, so I wouldn’t necessarily know that it was dirty, and (c) he knows all of this in detail I probably can’t imagine, and even knows exactly where the transmission is located on our two different cars, and then has the good graces to explain this to me although I am probably recognizably clueless.
I am so used to knowing things that I guess it is uncomfortable to simply take a stranger at his/her word and then invest so much money and time repairing and maintaining and caring for aspects of a vehicle that I’ve never even seen. I wonder if this points to trust issues.
It also doesn’t seem wise to think about car repairs while driving at 70 miles per hour.
I watched a couple dozen miniature people happily buzzing around this incredible indoor playground today as I babysat my friend’s children. I’ve heard something about how children of a certain age (I believe younger toddlers?) play alongside each other and only later do they actually begin playing together. It certainly seemed that most of these small children were more or less in his/her own world. Unlike us grown-ups though, who often also move in our own worlds and can sometimes protest with frustration when worlds collide, changing our direction, plans or purpose, the world collision in the playground seemed like a happy coincidence. Look, another small person like me! Hello there! And goodbye! It is also intriguing watching budding personalities…bud. Interesting to hear many unique names called into the space and to see small people attend to the name they’ve been given.
The 5-year-old I was entrusted with today insisted on wearing nothing more than a leotard, tights, shoes and rain jacket to this playground today. I protested lightly before wondering if it was worth the protest. I certainly don’t feel comfortable wandering the world in tights and a leotard, but she is just 5. Do I feel the outfit choice is inappropriate because it is somehow inappropriate or immodest? Or am I simply handing along my learned self-consciousness of my own body? Since I could not answer this question to my own satisfaction, I allowed her to wear what she wished. And as it turned out, she was right — the outfit she had chosen was perfect for her main purpose in visiting the playground today, that is, to wear one glamorous dress-up outfit after another. Other little girls had to awkwardly layer princess and ladybug costumes over their already-bulky winter clothing, but not my smart little charge.
I read a few paragraphs in An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor this afternoon, a book I’ve been working through and enjoying immensely. This struck me in her chapter on vocation (p. 110):
Then one night when my whole heart was open to hearing from God what I was supposed to do with my life, God said, “Anything that pleases you.”
“What?” I said… “What kind of an answer is that?”
“Do anything that pleases you,” the voice in my head said again, “and belong to me.”
I thought about this for a while. I emailed the quote to my husband and articulated the question that was fluttering around the apparent miracle of this small quote: Does this also apply to me?
And then my 5-year-old friend reappeared from her quiet time and we snuggled on the couch under a purple blanket to watch a riveting film about Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue.
I wonder now what she might have said if I’d asked her if God has something specific for us to do or if he wants us to do what pleases us and simply belong to him. I should have asked.
And echoing in what feels like the deep backstage of my mind since Saturday night is this oh-so-familiar quote from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount:
“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
“And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing,yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of Godabove all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
When a familiar conversation about finances and future plans with my dear husband on Saturday led to late night tears of anxiety, he finally reminded me gently that my worrying doesn’t actually change anything, so would I please stop worrying and allow us both to rest? And I immediately heard the refrain I’ve memorized and repeated a million times sing out in my heart, “which of you be worrying can add a single hour to his (or her) life?”
Ah yes, but so much easier memorized and repeated than done.
The not-so-nice truth is that I judge others for worrying too much, when I, in fact, also worry — far too often, far too much.
Jesus must know this about me, though. Otherwise why would he have expended such valuable space in his famous sermon on these beautiful word pictures that I obviously still need to digest and reflect upon and learn by heart and life?
I came home tonight, in the dark, to Christmas lights and a warm house and a husband making hot chocolate for both of us because he knew I’d be home soon. And if you know her, please do not tell my sweet 5-year-old friend that I did exactly what I had been telling her all afternoon she could not do: I had a cookie with my hot chocolate, all before dinner.