Daily Archives: August 8, 2007

common carriers


They are easily ignored, existing as they do, everywhere. On every corner, between every corner, across your backyard, spanning the countryside in great strides and short hops. They are old, cracked, faded, somewhat rotten. They are new and sticky and solid. They are steel and aluminum and wood. They perform their work silently, impassively. You don’t notice their presence unless you bump into them or they fail under great duress.

And yet, for all their self-deprecation, they are known. A record is kept of their existence, of their location. Someone, somewhere, keeps track. The numbers and letters embossed in metal or peeled and stuck on metal plates are listed in a book or spreadsheet or ledger somewhere.

These power poles or light posts or whatever they are called, are known. There are numbers on each of them, often bearing the name of whatever the company was called before the merger. It is important in time of crisis to know exactly where the post is and what it is connected to, what lines it carries across the neighborhood.

In looking at these numbers, I realized that if something like a pole has an identification, wouldn’t it be cool if every person were known by an identifier unique to her or to him? Wouldn’t it be comforting to know that in time of crisis, someone knew where we could be found? Wouldn’t it be ….

Oh, wait.

David talked about that, in a blog post or poem or psalm.

You know me inside and out,you know every bone in my body;You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,how I was sculpted from nothing into something.

Psalms 139:15 The Message (MSG) Copyright © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

People matter, not as groups, not as markets, not as amorphous gatherings but as uniquely identified individuals. We get so busy using what they produce, taking for granted what they carry.

But they matter.

Just look for the signs.

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Shortest distance may be slow

Interstate highways are built to minimize turns and to maximize speed. They are designed to get us from near one point to near another point. They are fun in an efficient kind of way, allowing us to set the cruise control and easily consume distance.

Most of my life, however, isn’t spent on interstates. It is spent in the twists and turns of neighborhood streets, moving slowly, dealing with traffic, stopping and starting, backtracking. Most of my driving life I can’t set the cruise control. I have to pay attention to where I’m going. I feel as though I am making no progress at all. I wish I could have Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang. I wish I were in a Jeep commercial and could drive over the terrain.

Yesterday Bill said something about the ebb and flow of life. Sometimes a good friend says, “just when we think we are getting ahead….” A friend doesn’t want to have to start at the bottom of another company. A young woman says, “let’s go back to when you started teasing me in elementary school…and start over.”

When I look at the winding road sign, I realize that half the time I face east, half the time I face west, I move slower that I want to, but ultimately I get to where I need to be. And I think about my life and the lives of my friends and I wonder if maybe we missed the winding road sign.

Think about it. We often waste hours (days, weeks, years) wondering what the next thing is. We wonder which way to go. We think that things on this road aren’t going the way they are supposed to go. We are angry and hurt and scared.  We keep looking for a sign that will tell us which way to go, because this way just doesn’t work. After all, we seem to be going backwards. We stop next to the road in our confusion.

Maybe we missed the sign that was hidden by a branch (because the roads close to home, the roads that are not interstates always have untended trees). We missed the sign that said, “you are on the right road, but it is going to twist, but don’t let that trouble you. The Maker of the Road knows that it will get you to where you need to be.”

In your search for signs, consider the possibility that the winding road, while slow, is exactly the right road.

What do you think?

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