Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Mike and Friend

A few days ago I had to go to the airport to pick up one of the monks, Tom Francis.

I was given the Stratus.

I pulled the car out of the garage and noticed a strange light on the dashboard.

It was some kind of a warning light. I could not tell what it meant but took a risk and hit the road. It was hot and I was lazy and hoped that the car would make it to the airport and back.

The light stayed on all the way.

But the car seemed to work fine the whole trip.

Tom’s flight was on time. It was good to see him. I never told him about the light on the dashboard, which was still on as we drove and he told me about his trip. The world of immediacy was fine – the car moved, it was a nice evening, the meaning of the light faded as long as the car moved.

I made a mental note to tell Mike Wilson, our mechanic, about the light but forgot to say anything to him. Now I am aware that I put others in peril through my neglect, my forgetfulness. It was not intentional – it was just one of those things, as the saying goes.

I saw Mike a few days later and then remembered to tell him. He had already noticed it and had fixed it, so my warning to him was deflated. He then said that it was an indicator light that the gas cap was not properly fastened. He said that are three clicks when you attach the gas cap and if those three clicks do not happen that means that the cap is loose, that air is going to get in, and then that air will get into the gas tank and then the gas line. Then you are doomed, stranded somewhere and in desperate need of help on some crazy highway of life with thousands of people passing and not one stopping to help because they may get killed, or do not have the time or the interest, or are just like many of us who routinely pass by people with unscrewed gas caps of mind, heart, or Stratuses.

And such is life. I confess guilt for trying to get the most mileage out of life while ignoring more than one warning on my dashboard.

Jesus tells of prophets and how to recognize them – that we will know them by their fruits. I do not know what to say about the major prophets. Most people did not listen to them and I am afraid I would easily fall into that category. For as long as life seems to move along, even when there are warnings galore on the dashboard of existence, I hope to get by.

I do not know if any great prophet is on the horizon. At times I wonder if God has shifted his way of operating with us. If, out of an exasperated Providence, he is getting his way and getting us to where we need to go. We have not heeded the big warning lights very well. So perhaps he has placed thousands, maybe millions, of lesser lights in our midst, like countless little flashes on the moving dashboard of life. Small voices, small lives that are prophetic in how they live, how they love, how they hear and respond to God’s call.

Three simple clicks of a gas cap assure that a ride will go well. Such a small thing that if done has enormous ramifications that can last for miles.

There will be acts of kindness this day, done with no expectation of paybacks, all of them hidden. They will never find their way into print or any kind of cultural notoriety. Such small things that, when done, presence the prophetic word in our midst – right before our eyes, like a small light on a dashboard.

1 comment:

an Irishman in France said...

Just to let you know that I find your site, your words and reflections, a source of peace and inspiration for me. May God bless you.