There are times when the voice on the other end of the God line seems faint. Are you there, I ask, and my voice wavers like a child left alone in a dark basement. On my last trip to Calgary, I experienced a perfect storm of events that had me writing my own codicil to the Book of Lamentations. Woe was me.
I had decided to catch a bus to Saskatoon, then fly the rest of the way. On the way to the depot, I forgot my driver’s license and had to rush home to get it. Or, I should say, Gerry Clark had to rush me home, thereby making him late for work. In Prince Albert, I left my water bottle on the bus, which wouldn’t be a big deal except it belonged to my late mother. Which made me feel like I’d left her on the bus.
In Saskatoon, I flagged down a taxi, reaching the airport in record time, only to discover I’d left my luggage at the bus depot. Fortunately, there was time to go back and retrieve it. It was only when I was boarding the plane that I realized I felt very ill.
Food poisoning ill. My stomach had a dragon in it, composed of a bad chicken sandwich and the feeling that I’d never make the seventy-five minute flight without throwing up. To compound the matter, I was sitting against the window, breaking my long standing code of always taking an aisle seat. As I watched in amazement, a grizzly bear sized young man took the seat next to me.
As it turned out, that was a good thing. Extremely nice, ruggedly handsome, he was willing to chat about many things, and ignore the fact that I was ready to barf all over him at a moment’s notice. I held on until I reached my daughter’s house, where I proceeded to act like the little girl in ‘The Exorcist.’ Lots of projectile vomiting and enough body spasms to freak out the bravest priest.
It is in these dire times that I seek God like a hound catching a scent. In good times, for so many of us, our faith becomes smug. We push it to the back of our minds. It takes a bad day to make us really count our blessings. To appreciate all the good things we ordinarily take for granted. Like traveling without forgetting things. Or feeling well. Not having the car break down. No unexpected bills arriving in the mail.
On those days when the sun shines and we feel like the best versions of ourselves, we look back to the bad times and feel grateful. Because in that moment, on that day, all is well. We recognize the blessing, even if it’s temporary. On those days when it seems that no one is on the other end of the line, appreciating moments of grace can bring us peace. We don’t know what lies ahead. But when we appreciate having it good, it gives us strength for all the rest.