Lead & Led

Written September 25, 2016

     I heard the news. The headline was hunting down some story about driverless vehicles. There was no reason right to me that thought this was a grand giant to get awed about, but that didn’t stop the story. On my way back the day previous, I planned to go to the cardlock fuel place not to obtain fuel, but to check and see there was enough oil in the truck I steered. What actually happened is another story waiting to be told; so, I will tell it.

     There was something missing that morning, hidden from my view. I arose from bed, fumbling a little through the dark, careful to go wide around the deacons bench on the right at the foot of the bed, and the orange upholstered chair to the left. In the kitchen, I reached to turn the left front burner to three, where the small cast iron frying pan heated slow; and, after filling it, the red kettle to the highest high, bringing the water to a boil on the right rear burner. I did not notice the hidden item absent as I prepared fried potatoes, mushrooms, and eggs added to top it (a mini Hobbit first break fast); packed my lunch into the brown and torn backpack; and, in between somewhere, followed my bathroom route through that smallest of rooms.

     I was still blind to it as I made my way to what we emloyees call “the yard,” after the designation by the employer. As I walked to the truck I was granted that day, I reached into the side pocket of my new pants to check the time. It wasn’t there. My cell phone, covering for the clock I carried with me, was absent, missing, not available to my touch. At the first I dismissed the essentials of this. Then, as though dropping into my mind, I saw it clear as the cloudless day we had one day last week.

     I could see. I saw myself sitting in the black truck assigned me. I was at the place we always placed it: at the bottom of the too steep to drive up driveway that led to the work site. I was waiting. My ride up was not coming. I waited. Some more waiting still. He was not arriving.

     I still wasn’t convinced I should go back for it. I was just going to go to the cardlock fuel storage stage, taking the left turn required. I took the turn, smooth, tires swishing on the pavement. I wanted to turn right following, but the truck took another hard left, as though it had transformed into a driverless black truck. After the merge back on to the high way, I looked down and saw my foot suddenly had grown lead in it, and we travelled swifter than usual. Another left, then another, into our drive. I walked with haste into the house, careful to soften my booted steps. When I entered the bedroom I heard it before I saw it.
My cell phone was ringing. When I snatched it from my bedside, I saw that he had called twice. When we finally got to hear each other, he told me some story about the need to get his truck repaired. He wanted to know if I was close to the yard. I needed to get a key for the trailer, so that while he was delayed, I could continue the work.

     I steered the truck back to the yard. Just as I vacated the truck again, another opened up the locked office ahead of me. He knew exactly where the extra trailer keys were. When I left the office, I noticed another fellow standing there and approached him to converse. It was a cool morning as darkness broke away, and he saw, and asked if his jacket was in the back seat of the truck assigned me. Indeed it was, I told him.

     I was led that morning.  It was the story of Abraham’s servant all over again (Genesis 24).   I was driven like a driverless car, my hands firmly placed on the steering wheel, compelled to take that hard left.

    I was in the yard just then because I was shown waiting at the bottom of the steep climb.
I was there, and so was the fellow who opened the office ahead of me.

     I was there, and so was the jacket-less one.

     When I arrived at the work site, I drove up the too steep driveway in the truck that couldn’t make the grade. Amazing what we can see when we’re not blind. Led. Guided by Someone else. I was brought there so I could create a concrete wedge we’d started the late part of the day before, before the delayed one came too. That’s the story. It gets me wondering. How have you been led lately?

A Cracked Mug

A Cracked Mug

Written Sunday, September 18, 2016

     Quite a few years ago we traveled to the east coast, taking the journey in a minivan packed with belongings and our family of six. The main purpose of the ride was to see some friends and, as the road turned, see the scenes that make Nova Scotia what she is; that is, we drove to Peggy’s Cove.

     We were surprised to hear that it was not safe to walk close by the ocean, and this first experience of ocean came at the price of a mug, complete with a picture of a lighthouse and the words of where we were but no longer are. Something about rogue waves reaching and snatching you into the sea. Lost always, never found.

     A few weeks ago a crack appeared. In the mug. Since we didn’t want to risk coffee seeping out, the mug is now retired. It hosts my razor now. I know, it’s only a mug. I was disappointed that things had come to this. It was not a huge loss. Yet this is real. I no longer use the mug for what it was formed for.

     I am convinced that life is, in a large lingering way, navigation through losses. For a time I turned away from my first searing loss. In the same year we bought the mug, my mother died a long drawn out, pain filled death. Quite a few years I backed away from this very painful loss. I turned away, avoiding it. I set my face and refused to face into it. I allowed the wind to push me away from the source.

     Then the wind died down. I crashed. I burned. I was brought to a halt. Finally I turned to face into that horrible loss, and all the great and small ones too.

     A friend who herself has experienced significant loss, scoffs at the notion of grief coming in stages. We were talking over a piece of grief writing from another who journeyed from one loss to another (G. Snow, on Reddit). It’s like a one hundred foot wave crashing in. All you have is a piece of wreckage to cling to. So you do, even while the wave hurls over top of you. At first they come regular as a wave machine at a public pool. A song springs it. An item placed by her in her style of decorating. A drive along the road you used to ride together. Out springs the tears.

     Slowly the one hundred foot waves slow, get further spaced, and come they will. Just when you’re not looking.

     All in a mug. Learning to face into loss, courageous. Face into. Not faced away. How do you handle loss?

     A post script to this.  What I wrote her stirred up stuff inside me.  Anger.  Rage.  Disbelief.  Right there, evidence of some of the markers observed in losses.  This year I have gone through a deluge of a wave of a loss, a life altering event.  Another grief.  More mourning.  

Unseen Things

Unseen Things

Written Sunday, September 11, 2016

     Lately I’ve been seeing things. At the corner of my eyes ­­ at the edge ­­ I see something. I turn to look. There is nothing there. What did I see? Why, when I turn aside to look does what I see up and disappear? Where did it go, like the time when you close your eyes for hide and seek, and when you lift up your eyes all your friends are gone?

     Lately I’ve been having dreams, or at least remembering the dreams I get. Last week I dreamed a dream about visiting the wife of my favourite coach in high school. Strange that I was visiting her in there since in real life I hardly ever conversed with her. She was telling how they were leaving town after all that had happened. Somehow I knew that “what happened” was murder; as in someone got killed. Last night I dreamed a dream where I sat listening to someone I know who challenged a few of us to describe what hell is really like, the fire of it. Dreams are like that I guess.

     I think it’s pretty cool that one of the privileges of being human is the ability to dream dreams. Impressive stuff.

     I also believe that when I see something on the edge, and turn aside to look, that I was not seeing things. It was not imagined. There really is something there. I suppose that physicists would talk about another dimension. I believe we humans are meant to see such, and whatever we see is either some type of protector or some sort of threat to us. I believe also that, just as sure that there are realities only viewable through a microscope, so what catches the corner of our eyes is part of the reality we have been gifted with. The unseen things are just as real as what is seen through that microscope.

     Unseen things, seen. What have you seen at that edge, from the corner of your eye?