Thursday, March 27, 2014

Where's the Pool?

Do you ever have days like I do, when praying to God feels like talking to a wall? Days when I wonder if God even hears me, and my prayers seem to be going around in circles with no real destination? On those days I’m reminded of a recent time when I went to a high school event with my daughter and her friends.

The girls asked me to drive them to a swim meet to watch their other friend in the competition. I gladly obliged, and my daughter and I picked up her two girlfriends and headed to the nearby college campus where the event was being held.

I didn’t know exactly where the pool was located, but since the campus was small, I figured it would be easy to find. At the entrance of the campus driveway, I pulled the car over near a directory and map, leaving three chatting, giggling teens in the back seat. I scanned the map but couldn’t find anything labeled “gymnasium.” There was a blue blob labeled “retaining pond” but I didn’t think a swim meet could be held there.

When I got back in the car, the girls agreed we would simply drive around the campus and hopefully find the pool on our own. We figured it couldn’t be far. After a few minutes, one of my daughter’s friends said the scenery was starting to look familiar to her. She had been on the campus several years earlier and remembered there were plenty of sculptures and statues on the property. We had just passed a sculpture she recognized. “Keep going,” she said, “I’m pretty sure there are more buildings at the end of this road.”

We wound up another path and soon I saw a bench to the side of the road with a woman sitting on it. I pulled up slowly, lowered the window, and asked loudly, “Do you know where the pool is located?”

No response.

She was a statue.

I braced myself for the explosion of laughter from the back seat.

Yes, we finally found the building where the swim meet was held. It was fun, but nothing like talking to a statue. Unlike that lady on the bench, God is real, is listening, and can always give me directions.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Who's Watching?

I was driving a familiar road, heading to work after my Weight Watchers’ meeting with only a few minutes to spare. The day was sunny and cloudless, perfect for productivity.

I stopped at the red light on Main Street, and headed to the next light a couple blocks ahead. The light turned green and I hit the gas again. Less than a minute and a half-block later, the shrill of a police siren intruded my otherwise uneventful drive. I looked in my rearview mirror to discover the noise was coming from the cop car behind me. Directly behind me.

I pulled over, silently praying he’d pass by to chase after a criminal or two. Watching in the rearview mirror, I saw that he pulled over behind me. Ugh. Lights flashed blue and red, disco-style, to make sure the whole world knew I was stopped by a cop.

“Guess I’ll be late for work,” I thought to myself.

I watched him in my side mirror as he stepped out of the cruiser, as starched as he was short, and ambled towards my car. His dark hair and eyes accentuated his baby-smooth complexion. I wondered if he could even grow a beard. To my left, drivers passed slowly as they gawked, desperate to catch a glimpse of what a real criminal looks like.

The officer approached my window. “Good afternoon, ma’am.”

God, I’m old.

“What happened, sir?” I asked. “Did I go through a light?”

Breathe in. Breathe out. Stay calm.

“No, ma’am. I clocked you at 41 in a 25 zone.”


“May I have your license and registration, please?”

“They’re in my purse, which is in the trunk. I’m on my way to work,” I said.
His eyes widened as he stepped back ever-so-slightly, calculating my demeanor.

I didn’t move.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

“Okay with you if I get out and open my trunk for my purse?” I asked.

He took a couple more steps back and nodded. I got out of my car and opened the hatch.

Seriously, there are no drug deals going down here.

I grabbed my purse and carried it back to the drivers’ seat as he watched. Opening my wallet, I pulled out my drivers’ license and grabbed my registration from the glove box. I handed both to the officer.

“It’ll be a few minutes while I do the paperwork, ma’am.”

I wished he’d stop calling me ma’am.

And I sat. And sat. And waited.

The disco lights continued to flash to the beat of their obnoxious dance.

How long does it take to do this paperwork?

Five minutes passed. Ten minutes.

Fidgety, I looked in my rearview mirror to see if he was awake back there. I was tempted to pull out my phone and take a photo of the view from the mirror, framing this little guy with big lights taking care of paperwork. I didn’t want to get in any more trouble, though.

Fifteen minutes.

“God, is it possible he could just give me a warning?” I mentally pleaded.

Five more minutes and he got out of his disco cruiser. Marching up to my drivers’ window again, he handed me a ticket.

“Please drive more slowly, ma’am.”

After he walked back to the cop car, he turned off the lights. Finally. I flicked my left turn signal and pulled out into traffic. Slowly.

Is that how I see God? Always behind me, ready to pull out and give me a ticket for something I’ve done wrong? At times, I behave as if God is more of a cop than my friend. Speeding through prayers doesn’t work, either. Believe me, I’ve tried. When I do take a few minutes, though, to simply be with God, the rest of the day seems to go much more smoothly. That’s a ticket worth writing.