It’s been a full morning. Jenny and I walked along the water, as we often do. We were walking fast, and talking faster, as we often are. To our left was the marina, full of huge, beautiful, expensive sailboats. To our right was the Vinoy hotel, full of huge, beautiful, expensive people. We were having a Saint Petersburg Moment, and I needed it, because in the back of my head I was aware that I had a morning meeting waiting for me. I was not looking forward to it, and so the momentary vacation was welcome.
Something changed, though. All at once we noticed the gentleman walking ahead of us. He was smoking, enthusiastically. I don’t have a lot of judgement about that, honestly, but he was matching our pace, more or less, which meant that we’d be in his cloud for the foreseeable future. He turned, going along our normal path, and we decided to take the road less traveled, and smoked, by.
This was a moment of decision on a number of levels. We could have stayed on “our” path and persevered. We could have started running, pushing through the cloud and taking a fair bit of it into our lungs. We could have ranted and raved at the poor guy. We could have done a lot of things.
But we crossed the street and walked through the park instead of along the water. This new path took us in front of the art museum. As we passed, we almost literally bumped into a dear friend of ours; somebody we’d just been talking about. Unbeknownst to us, he’s been doing some temporary work at the museum, and stepped out to get something from his car. If we’d stuck to our initial course, we never would have seen each other. Instead, we were able to catch up, which we’d been wanting to do.
This is not an earth-shattering moment. But life is made out of the little things. Every thought, word, and action is a vote for the kind of life, and world, you want to live in, and majority rules. As we always say, if you can’t recognize and celebrate the small miracles, you’ll never be ready for the big ones. Spirituality is a muscle.
Our new path, and the unplanned conversation, meant that we arrived at our coffee shop later than normal. When we walked in we saw a church friend, somebody else we’d just been discussing (honestly!). Would we have had met her if we’d taken our regular route? Probably not. For us it was a little reminder.
The journey back to our trusty Jeep was inspirational but uneventful. It kept my mind off of day job topics and morning meetings, and focused on more pleasant things.
And then the Jeep wouldn’t start.
A not-all-that younger version of myself would have seized the opportunity to freak out, to curse my rotten luck, to resolve to either sell all my possessions or shell out for AAA Triple Adamantium Status. But I didn’t do any of those things. Maybe I’m growing up. Maybe Jenny has started to rub off on me. Maybe I just didn’t want to break the morning’s streak.
We pushed the Jeep to a more accessible part of the parking lot and put the hood up. As if by magic, the universe sent us a hero. In your mind’s eye, picture the perfect person to jump-start a car. We met him this morning. It was as if he’d been cast in a film about automotive maintenance. He had the perfect truck, the perfect cables, the perfect look in his eye. He just happened to be passing by. Would he have seen us if we hadn’t put the hood up? There’s a lesson in that.
We hooked up the cables and, as we waited for the magic to happen, had a great conversation about planned obsolescence and the importance of people helping each other. The Jeep started. As I shook hands with my new pal, somebody else from church walked by and gave me a hug. You can’t make this stuff up.
Here’s the thing: everything is like everything else. How you deal with the small things is how you’ll handle the big ones. The trick is to get out of the way and learn how to listen. Every moment of my morning is a metaphor for the rest of how life works.
Adventure is what happens when the wheels fall off, when you don’t know what’s going to happen. That’s not your job. Your job is to be as Christlike as you can and let God do the rest. If you really don’t want to go to that meeting, the universe will give you a better itinerary.