Traveling in the Limp Lane

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No one can accuse me, once I get started on a metaphor, of giving it short shrift. (Have I mentioned before that short shrift comes from the ancient term “shrift” or the penance given to a confessing death row inmate? Since in the bad old days the sentence—usually hanging—was carried out almost immediately, the prisoner had, of necessity, a short shrift, or penance. Every cloud has a silver lining, no? Give the phrase a couple hundred years and it has come to mean “give cursory/little/no attention or consideration to.”)

Back to the metaphor (no one can accuse me of staying slavishly on topic). Everyone recognizes the one about life as a journey and all of us merely travelers. It should, I decided,  be expanded to an analogy. Add more body, more polish, more power, maybe a customized grille.
We may all be traveling the highway of life together, but most of those on the road with us will remain strangers. We barely glance their direction. Some, of course, catch our eye because they are fast and shiny, hurtling down the express lane. Some we watch limp to the shoulder hoping for roadside assistance, and we’re glad we aren’t them.SONY DSC

Some are fresh from the car wash and glistening in the sun. Some may be freshly clean, but the shine is camouflaged by a recent spray of mud and muck. A tune up lets even the most economy-ranked vehicles hit on all cylinders and make good time. For awhile. Soon comes a laborious lurching from one service station or rest stop to the next. Those with new tires guaranteeing 40,000 more miles learn that tires can sadly expire before the warranty does. The thing is, we are all so concentrated on our own journey, we don’t know what is going on with theirs. Except what we see—or think we see.

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We watch our speedometer and odometer and check engine light. When we aren’t scanning the dashboard we’re watching the rearview mirror to see who might be going faster than us, taking up more lane space then seems fair, who is getting caught by their misdeeds and who isn’t. Which vehicles do we want to avoid, or whose slipstream can we take advantage of?

But the shiny vehicle speeding in the passing lane may crash just around the bend, or limp along on a blown tire, or get in trouble with authorities because so much attention is paid to shiny speeding vehicles. The rusting jalopy we passed miles back gets a temporary engine boost and zips in and around everyone else for miles and miles before falling back to the far right lane with everyone honking in annoyance. Expensive conveyances don’t last forever. No matter how well they are maintained. Everyone traveling alongside us needs maintenance, needs to slow down or stop at signs of trouble or danger, runs out of gas. Then we move to the limp lane.

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No one stays in the express lane, at least not for long.
We’re all limping.
We may not see our counselor, our hometown hero, our mentor limp because they are too far ahead or behind us.
But it will happen.
We all need to slow down. Let others in ahead of us, give roadside assistance, be patient with the old, and the slow and the damaged. Avoid envying those racing in the express lane, flying along the passing lane, because the speed is impossible to maintain.

We all came from the same place.
We’re all on the same road.
We’ll eventually get where we are going, whether we want or not. Haste and road rage and rudeness won’t make life’s journey any better.
Only cooperation and kindness can do that.
Let’s limp together.

Version 2

To every decoration, there is a season

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I knew I should have been taking more vitamins. Practicing those limber-up moves and establishing regular sleep habits. Repeating positive thoughts at regular intervals to myself.
Because the Big Day is tomorrow. March 1. The day that will require every bit of energy and organization and perseverance.
It is the day the winter decorations come down.

People, I have a lot of winter decorations. These are not to be confused with the Christmas decorations that come down January 2. After ditching everything attendant on that season, I perform a hasty cleanse and pull out the Winter Box.
Down with the Christmas tree, up with the Winter trees. Away with reds and greens and golds, in with silvers and whites. Angels are replaced with snowmen. So. Many. Snowmen. Poinsettias make way for greens and frosty pinecones.

 

For almost two months I enjoy the cozy season and my cozy decorations. Then, the last week of February, a strange restlessness sets in. The snow might still be up to our windowsills, the temps might still hover around freeze-your-nose-off, but I’m beginning to cast glances of disfavor at the snow globes, the ice fishing moose, the ice skating American Girl outfits.
That’s when I know. It’s time to strip my shelves and walls and tables of all things winter. The St. Patrick’s Day decorations, though paltry in number, will come out. The green reminds me that spring will come. In spite of the aforementioned sill-high snow.

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But before the greens and the shamrocks can claim their rightful places, hundreds of winter things must come down. Did I mention that a family of four could easily live in the Winter Box?
Tomorrow, March 1, you’ll find me chugging the coffee and repeating positive phrases and stopping for deep, cleansing breaths. At the end of the day nary a snowflake will be seen. Everything winter will be packed away, waiting, (Lord willing) to be greeted with shouts of approbation and great affection on January 2, 2020.

Version 2

Ode to a Germ

Two weeks ago, I WAS SO SICK. Every possible symptom of the flu attacked me, from the tips of my hair follicles to the ends of my toes, and every major and minor organ between. I was so, so sick that I couldn’t talk about how sick I was when I was sick, and now that I’m better I fight the urge to tell family, friends, casual acquaintances and our mail carrier about every symptom. In detail.

When I was sick I was too sick to really worry about how sick I was but now that I’m better I’m worried when a little grandson is down with fever and chills. This poem is for you, sweetheart. Get better soon and we’ll swap symptom stories.

 

THE GERM

A mighty creature is the germ,
Though smaller than the pachyderm.
His customary dwelling place
Is deep within the human race.
His childish pride he often pleases
By giving people strange diseases.
Do you, my poppet, feel infirm?
You probably contain a germ.

Ogden Nash

 

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Ode to my Valentine

I found this poem…somewhere…when my husband and I were engaged. (Not on the internet/Pinterest/a meme—how did we stumble on things back in those prehistoric times?)

I wrote it out and gave it to him and I think he got a kick out of it. Hope you do too!

 

All Because You Kissed Me Goodnight

I climbed up the door
And opened the stairs
Said my pajamas
And put on my prayers
Then I turned off the bed
And crawled into the light
All because you kissed me goodnight.

The next morning I felt normal again
So I picked up the eggs
And toasted the phone
Fed the dog papers
And threw dad a bone

Then came midnight
And the sun was still shining
So I hopped on the door
And opened my bed
Switched on my book
And read the light
All because you kissed me goodnight.

Author Unknown

 

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Some salt with that sentence, please?

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Some of us have learned how indigestible our words can be when we have to eat them.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term “eating your words,” here’s what happens.
We state an opinion or “fact.”
We learn the stated opinion wasn’t based fully on facts.
We learn our facts were not correct.
The subsequent admission of our error is eloquently called “eating our words.”

Seldom do those words taste as good coming back in as they did going out.
At best they are bitter, at the worst they burn all the way down.

If you were born in the pre-millennial days, you often could dine on those unpalatable words almost in private. No matter how big a mouth you had, of necessity, only a few people heard you.

Now, when we blab an opinion, when we share a link on social media, our platform is as big as our friend group. Bigger, if people share our opinion or link.
If that opinion turns out to be built on lies, if the story we share turns out to be less than honest,
and we learn the truth—what do we do?

Of course we could just move on to the next story and pretend we never said anything wrong. And our faulty opinions and false stories just pile up and rot and pollute and ultimately spread a malaise that makes everyone sick.

But we are bigger than that, aren’t we? (Probably because we’ve been eating our words for decades now.)

Of course you and I will admit that we didn’t take everything into account when we stated a heartfelt opinion. Or course we’ll confess that maybe we shared a link to a story before verifying it was factual.

We’re just that kind of people.

We’ve also learned the wisdom of that Scripture verse that says “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”
(Colossians 4:6)

No matter how careful we are in choosing our words and opinions and stories to share, we will mess up.
So, we season everything that comes out of our mouth or social media sites with salt. Then, when necessary, we take a deep breath and eat the misspoken, mistaken words.

Himalayan pink or Morton’s finest, specialty blends or generic seasoning, I recommend we choose our words’ seasoning with care. Because sooner or later we will have to eat them.

The Gate of the Year

If you seem to see this poem everywhere, I will take partial blame. Or credit. It is so wonderful that I’ve blogged it before, put it on our Christmas letter, mumbled it in the grocery store. Because 2019 is looming and I’m not prepared for it.

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THE GATE OF THE YEAR

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:

“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”

And he replied:

“Go out into the darkness and put your hand in the Hand of God.  That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”

So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night. And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.

 

There is a quite lovely story behind this. It was written by British poet Minnie Louise Haskins (1875-1957)—actually part of a longer poem called “God Knows” and published in 1908.

1939 was a bad year for England, in the bitterest throes of war, and 1940 didn’t look to be better. Young Princess Elizabeth shared “God Knows” with King George (aka her papa). He chose to share the preamble in his Christmas radio address to his anxious nation.

I choose to share it with you. With a confession that I am moderately hypocritical in doing so. I want the light shown on 2019. I want guarantees for my loved ones, my nation, my church. And guess what? God refuses to give me any guarantee except His presence and everything it entails. And He guarantees me that it all shall be well.

Happy New Year, dear ones. I’m praying that health and strength and blessings galore lie beyond the door to 2019 for us all. I’m confident of this though. God is there already.

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