1,000 miles per hour: the speed at which the Earth spins on its axis.
67,000 miles per hour: the speed at which the Earth is hurled around the Sun.
About 35 miles per hour: the speed at which I hit a series of bumps I’d hit probably 30 times before as I approached a downhill corner on Old Dennis Road in little Brock, Texas. The difference this morning was that it rained a little bit and those little bumps were enough for me to break traction in the truck that one of my best friends has let me borrow while I’m here in Texas and my Jeep is stranded in California. I recall thinking (in my coffee-deprived haze) that the truck should be turning by now, but no. And here we go!
Slow down, I prayed.
The big white Ford ran off the opposite side of the road, swapped ends and crossed back to the correct side of the road, stopping with the driver’s side firmly planted in a ditch. Well, shit. I thought. Truck was still running so I switched into 4×4. The truck lumbered forward riding along the ditch a bit. I put it in reverse, still in the ditch. Phooey. I had moved the truck enough that I was no longer against the bank and finally able to open the door. Surveying the damage from outside, it was apparent I wasn’t going anywhere. Panic set in. I cannot miss a trip.
Slow down, God said.
Wednesday before Thanksgiving found me starting a trip taking me all over the southern United States landing me in San Diego for Thanksgiving Day – long enough to drive to Creston to spend the day at home. The same Wednesday found me at the beginning of the flu. After spending the holiday with my family, I made it back to San Diego with a full heart, full tummy and a full blown fever. Shakes, sweats, chills .. I wanted to die. But instead, I finished working my trip, ran out of fuel about a mile outside of the Airport Employee Parking Lot in Fort Worth. I was in such a hurry to get to the airport, I thought I didn’t have time to get fuel. I certainly didn’t have time to be sick with a fever in a truck that was out of fuel and eventually a dead battery.
Slow down. I didn’t listen.
Six hours later, I finally made it home. 36 hours off and I was back at the airport in the wake of a five day fever and still feeling horrid. Two day trip then home again with plans to go to Vegas for the National Finals Rodeo to see my sister and best friend and what trouble I could find. I could barely get out of bed for almost three days. Physically and financially drained, I scrapped my plans to Vegas and tried to work my days off. As fate would have it, I wasn’t legal for a single trip. Homesick, still exhausted and longing for mom’s cooking, I knew it was time to see my family.
I think I’ll slow down a little ..
Two days at home was exactly what the doctor ordered. A run with my best friend, a great day working with another great friend, time with my parents and my niece, seeing the ranch green again and cooking on mom’s stove. These things are all food for my soul. One of my very wise Flight Attendant Instructors, Amy Freisen, left us with some very sage advice on our last day of class: To be the best person we can be, all things must be in balance: Faith, Family, Work. When these things are out of balance, find the things that fill you up and you’ll return to balance. I’m listening, Amy. Makes sense.
Time for me to slow down.
Vegas, Vegas. How could I get to Vegas!!?!? I know – I’ll work a trip! Sure enough, all it took was to update my preferences and at 6:42 this morning, Shirley from Crew Scheduling called with a trip where I’d stay tonight in Phoenix and be in Vegas tomorrow night for Round 10 of the NFR and to see my sister! Perfection!! All I had to do was finish packing my bags and get to the airport! I had two hours to go ..
I’d been praying to the wrong gods .. The God I should have been praying to, had different plans for me.
Manners in Texas aren’t limited to the dinner table or “Ma’am and Sir”. They extend to country roads where no one is a stranger. You quickly learn to wave at everyone you pass. And a Texan sees someone’s truck in a ditch facing the wrong way, Texans stop. Seven neighbors stopped to see if I was okay. So many people stopped that I had to call Crew Scheduling back no less than four times before I could tell them I’d been in an accident. One gentleman said that he’d go get the tractor from the Moore’s ranch right across the road. He’d worked for them for years and still has the keys. I told him I had two tires off the rim so a tractor wouldn’t help. He recommended I call Sargent’s. They were the best wrecker in town. I thanked him. Another gentleman stopped and said he had fixed that fence across the road about half a dozen times. He builds fence and every time someone runs through it, he gets the call. I apologized for not getting him any work this time. He was glad I didn’t, I agreed and thanked him for slowing down. Five other Texans slowed down to offer a ride or offer to call someone for me. I thanked them all for their kindness. I’m grateful for the manners Texans are born with.
Slow Down. I hear you.
I called the wrecker as recommended and the first voice I heard was a woman who grunted through what sounded like years of whiskey and cigarettes: “Sargent’s!” I couldn’t dam up the tears any longer. I began sobbing and she softened instantly. I hadn’t even gotten a word out when I heard her sweetly say, “Oh honey! Are you okay???” I squeaked out that I was but I needed a tow truck and that I was parked in a ditch on Old Dennis Road. She only asked if I was North or South of the highway and repeated back my phone number. We hung up and I couldn’t stop crying. I was so grateful for her grace and knew she would take care of me.
I can’t go anywhere without You. I am here, waiting for You.
Within 8 or so minutes, my roommate’s mother pulled up and insisted she wait with me until the wrecker came. We had enough time to turn the car around before the wrecker arrived. Out of the huge red truck, lights a-flashing, crawled a huge man. Bald head, red beard, tattoos up both arms. Kevin approached us with a wide smile and announced, “God was watching out for you today!” He introduced himself and handed us both a business card. Kevin is a wrecker by trade but what he really loves to do is spread the Word of God. Kevin is also a Preacher.
I hear you. I see you. I’m listening.
Kevin looked over the truck and much to my surprise, he found no major damage. Tires looked like they were in good shape. He offered the name of three tire shops after he deftly loaded the old white Ford onto the wrecker. On our ride to town, he told me stories of the others he’d pulled out of that same corner. He assured me I couldn’t have been going very fast because if I was, I would have landed in the field. He encouraged me to forgive myself because these little things are called ‘accidents’ and not ‘on purposes’ for a reason. He said, “There was a reason you weren’t supposed to make it to work today. It could have been much worse. I’m glad you’re okay.”
Me too, Kevin. Me too.
Kevin was right. No major damage. 30 minutes at the tire shop and I was back on the road. Thoughts started racing through my mind. I needed to call Crew Scheduling and get another trip. Gotta call my mom and Jeramy and let them know everything is okay. And call the insurance company and cancel the claim. Need to start looking for a replacement bed for the truck.
No, Carin. It’s time to slow down.
Everything happens when it should. Everything happens as it should. I was reminded today that when I try to cram everything possible into a finite amount of time, something has got to give. Today it was the traction in the big white Ford on Old Dennis Road.
My relationship with God ebbs and flows, waxes and wains. There are times where I need him and other times where he calls on me to do his work. I feel confident in my relationship with Him. Perfect in our imperfection. God came into my life long before I could choose him. I will forever be grateful to my parents for choosing the Catholic Church for my baptism and early moral direction. I still find comfort and warmth in the Catholic traditions. I am also grateful for both my grandfathers and the ability to observe them in their interpretation of Faith. One was a conservative man who you’d find every Sunday in the same pew of the same church following the same routine. The other, I never knew to attend a formal church service as long as I was alive, although he was a Methodist Preacher when my mother was a child. Instead he sang his Faith and told biblical stories and taught us about God in everything that he did. Both men were Godly men. Both were my mentors in Fatih.
I know and feel that now is a time for me to seek Him and reinvest in my Faith. This will be my first year in my new career and away from the traditions in which we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. My perfect journey to this moment in the season of Advent reminds me that my Faith must be constantly renewed. Time to slow down. Time to seek Him. Time to listen to what He intends for me.
I hear you. I’m listening.