Archive for the ‘mystery’ Tag

Part IV: Cross-Country Nightmare   2 comments

My studies suffered from a month of homelessness while working 25 hours a week and trying to get settled in a new place—learn the transportation system, look for affordable housing, plan for moving our household across country mid-semester.  I was dependent on internet connection for directions, classwork, and local information, but my phone would not connect to the internet even when I had 5-bar reception.  Then my computer started dumping me from wifi.  Fearing a virus, I restored both to factory settings only to realize my word-processing software was in Asheville.  I now had no means to write school papers. Each assignment deadline seemed like a flash flood that nearly drowned me (I had about 15 papers due for the semester).  My motto became, “just survive.”

I planned to fly to North Carolina on a Wednesday after my last class and get back in time for my Monday class.  Kimberly was sure we could not make it across country in three days in a moving van, but I had a new urgency.  After buying non-refundable tickets and booking a truck, I discovered that my Monday class, a year-long counseling practicum, only allowed for one absence per semester.  My two hour commute to school was by bike (or car), ferry, and a mile walk. I needed a spare absence in hand in case of sickness, accident, or a cancelled/missed ferry because a second absence would fail me, wiping out the year, delaying graduation and greatly increasing an already heavy loan.

I arrived in Asheville Wednesday night, slept little, and interrupted early morning prep to go get the truck at 8:30 when Budget opened.  The couple ahead of me in line had a reservation, but after 30 minutes of phone calls, the agent sent them away with nothing.  Thankfully she had our size truck in the lot.  Since volunteers were already arriving at our house, I quickly signed the paperwork, jumped in the truck, and dashed off… or lumbered off—26 feet is a very large truck.  (The next size down was 16 feet, which was too small.)

After I ran over our water main housing and spent 30 minutes trying to maneuver this monster around a hairpin turn driveway, we started to pack.  Half way through we discovered we had no license plate.  It had been torn off by the previous customer, the packing tape used to repair it still flapping from the part that read “Oklahoma.”  What should we do?  We were on a tight schedule, and every imaginable fix would put us at least a day behind if not more.  (Were we going to make these eight 70-year-old Presbyterian retirees from Kimberly’s work unload and reload into another truck?)  Since the car carrier we would be pulling had its own license plate, I decided that would suffice.

We hurried back to the rental office to hook up the carrier with my Honda only to find the turn signals were not working.  They called someone to come out and look at it, and he replaced a fuse to get it working.  We got 20 miles down the road when we realized one of the indecipherable dashboard gauges was close to empty.  There was no manual in the glovebox.  We called the rental office and they said, “That is the DEF gauge.  It will ruin the engine if you drive with it empty.  You have to come back and let us fill it.”  And so we turned around and drove back.

We planned to make it to Indianapolis by bedtime where Kimberly’s family was gathered to wish us goodbye on our West coast adventure, but that bedtime was getting later and later.  At dusk we pulled off the interstate for gas and supper.  When I started the engine back up and flipped on the lights, the pavement in front of the truck stayed dark.  We had no headlights.

We started phoning Budget for help.  It was a nightmare of epic proportions—they could not even find our truck in their system—it didn’t exist–even though I gave them our reservation number, our license plate number (from our paperwork) and the VIN number stamped on the truck itself.  Realizing we could make it nowhere that night, we found a hotel a mile down the road, and with my emergency flashers blinking, I managed to get us there in the dark.  I pulled out my last-ditch plans—if we could make it within a few hundred miles of Seattle, I could back the Honda off the car carrier and drive all night to make it in time for the practicum, coming back for Kimberly afterwards.

The next day Budget rerouted us away from Indiana and through Kentucky to a mechanic who works on their trucks.  We thought it might just be another fuse.  He spent several hours on the truck, slowly discovering that the whole electrical system was malfunctioning.  We would have to unload and reload a whole house’s contents into another truck, but Budget was sending a team to do that for us.  The team arrived.  It was one guy.

I finally admitted our schedule was shot.  I would miss my Monday classes… and Tuesday classes… and Wednesday classes so as to unload.  I might fail out of practicum and fall a year behind, but I had to let it go.  We’ve learned to accept disappointing reality with a sigh: “It is what it is.”  We say it often.  We stop fighting the inevitable and rest into the mystery of God, a mystery that seems to saturate so much more of our lives than the lives of our friends and family members.  We long for “normal” lives, but our road never seems to take us there.  Perhaps our faith is stronger because of it.

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Posted January 16, 2018 by janathangrace in Personal

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Who Let You In?   2 comments

I love mystery in arts and entertainment, but I don’t want it following me into the parking lot and hitching a ride home.  If insight is a blessing, mystery is a curse.  If knowledge is power, mystery is paralysis.  What possible good can it bring?  Of course, there was that little incident over the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that ended rather badly.  Apparently some knowledge and control is better left in God’s hands.  But it’s scary to be left in the dark.  It feels like it’s my fault, as though God is put out with me and won’t turn on the light, not as though he’s doing it out of love and support.  I’m really struggling to trust God with my unresolved ignorance and confusion.  Mystery has never been part of my spiritual tool chest.  Gerald May explains why:

When we were children, most of us were good friends with mystery.  The world was full of it and we loved it.  Then as we grew older, we slowly accepted the indoctrination that mystery exists only to be solved.  For many of us, mystery became an adversary; unknowing became a weakness.  The contemplative spiritual life is an ongoing reversal of this adjustment.  It is a slow and sometimes painful process of becoming “as little children” again, in which we first make friends with mystery and finally fall in love again with it.  And in that love we find an ever increasing freedom to be who we really are in an identity that is continually emerging and never defined.  We are freed to join the dance of life in fullness without  having a clue about what the steps are.

We’re just getting reacquainted.  It’s going to take a lot more time before mystery is a friend, especially a trusted friend.

Posted February 4, 2013 by janathangrace in Personal, thoughts

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