Sailing along highway 20 in rural Mississippi, I thought the gas gauge read a tad more than half full when I glanced at it – but who can study a gauge at 80 70 mph?
I told Doug, he relaxed and we settled back into listening to the CD recording of All the Light We Cannot See. Exits to gas stations zipped by . . . and then, maybe an hour and a half later, I glanced at the gauge as another exit to gas was in the rearview mirror.
I had read it wrong!
Holy smoke – what I thought was the halfway marker had been the quarter marker and we were now a hair’s breath off empty! I just couldn’t see either one of us trekking along a highway lugging a five-gallon can . . .
Panic . . . I took the next exit, and as I made a sharp left to head in the direction of relief, a blinking red light illumined the gas gauge. Doug assured me this was not yet disaster; only the proof that we had some gas splashing around the tank.
It’s startling how close we might have come to a reality neither one of us would have enjoyed. Unexpected realities, though, crash through the best of plans, and most careful of preparations. You kneel one night and say your prayers, and you think you know what trouble is; the next night, you realize you had no idea what trouble is. What a difference twenty-four hours makes – leaving aside the inundation of local and world news. 1
I try never to go beyond the quarter low mark on the gauge – Doug said never believe the conventional wisdom that says: there are always a couple of gallons sloshing around even when the gauge says empty. But this was a flat out blunder!
Our blunders mostly come from letting our wishes interpret our duties. ~Author Unknown
I was too occupied listening to a good yarn that held our attention for a thousand or more miles to assess correctly what was plainly in front of me – not unlike many of the book’s characters whose wishes affected the choices they made against a backdrop of war’s brutality, and humanity’s weaknesses.
I am grateful something or some One made me glance down at the gas gauge at just the right moment – and the experience made me wonder about the engaging daily distractions this crazy wonderful life presents me – when what I wish for makes me inattentive to my duty?
“Time is a slippery thing: lose hold of it once, and its string might sail out of your hands forever.” ― Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See
Hoping we each read our gas gauges aright this day, in our cars and in our hearts, then stop now and refill on:
. . . things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. ~ Galatians 5:23-24 The Message
1 Romans 8:26 – written five years ago when I thought some troubles couldn’t get worse . . . they did. But God never diminished.