“You’ll come to a place where five roads meet called 5-Forks. Take the one that goes up the hill. There used to be a sign there, but no more….And don’t use your GPS! It will take you where you don’t want to go.” As I listened to Mom give phone directions to the electric company I chuckled to myself imagining some poor innocent soul attempting to jot down notes in some faraway place like India, or Oregon. Don’t use your GPS. It will take you where you don’t want to go. If you’re driving through West Virginia it doesn’t take long to realize GPS isn’t reliable. There are obstacles prohibiting a clear path. And herein lies Driving Life-Lesson ONE: I can’t always go by what someone tells me. I need actual written directions or a map (The Holy Bible). The voice on my phone used to tell me she was “recalculating” when I made a wrong turn…and likewise sometimes I need to reassess where I’m going.
Another parent in our family once dispensed important driving instructions, of the four legged kind. It was during the Civil War and my great-grandpa Albert and his dad were plowing with oxen on a steep field at Red Gate Farm. They paused to speak to a neighbor taking a sack of corn over the hill to the grist mill to get it ground into cornmeal. As they were talking, a group of Union Soldiers came down the road across the valley. The neighbor got frightened and began to run but my great-grandpa’s dad told Albert to keep working and the soldiers would see them as allies and not harm them. The soldiers shot at and chased the fleeing neighbor, and with bullets whizzing past them, great-great-grandpa kept plowing all the while shouting “Drive em up Albert! Drive em Up!” Life Lesson TWO: Drive smart and keep going even when you’re afraid.
Here in the USA it’s a rite of passage to drive. I’ve been driving the farm tractor since I was eight years old, and my job in the hayfield ever since I could reach the pedals was to drive the truck while the stronger bodies loaded hay. There is something powerful about changing gears with a floor stick shift. I learned to ease off the clutch to get a smooth start or let it lurch forward depending on who was stacking bales in the back. And with my own kids, I prayed with them when they went in for their driving exams and now pray every day because they got them. Driving Lesson THREE: Life goes smoother if you can switch gears easily, and be mindful of people counting on you for balance.
Some cars have a dashboard filled with gauges so complicated you need a pilot’s license (or a tech savvy child) to read them. Recently my digital display accidentally got set to directional coordinates when I tried to turn on the radio. Knowing what degree North-East I was headed provided me with zero assistance. I could already tell I was headed west if I needed sunglasses. The information I really needed on this long journey was how many miles before I ran out of gas. Driving Lesson FOUR: Know your fuel levels at all times.
There’s a lot to be learned when we look at what drives us and little lessons along the way. After we arrive at our destination, we let our loved ones know we made it and the natural response is “Glad you made it safe and sound”. Some of us aren’t afraid of getting lost, but Lord, I sure hope we have enough gas in the tank to get us home…Another thing Mom said when she hung up the phone after giving cryptic directions to the power company, “It will be a miracle if he makes it.” And that’s what I’m counting on:)
Janet Cowger- Fliegel