Warning lights

My morning commute takes about twenty minutes these days, slightly more if you include the time it takes to take our daughter to school. I was on that drive this morning, lost in thought, when I looked down and saw a warning light: “Service Engine Soon.”

From looking in the manual in the past, I know that this means that there is something about the “breathing system” of the car that needs attention sometime.

Buried in that last sentence is an important note to insightful readers.

“How do you know what it says in the manual?”

I know because I looked the last time this warning light came on.

“So, what was wrong with the car that time?”

I don’t know.


Because I didn’t take it in. The light went out by itself.

“How long ago was that?”

Um, maybe a couple months.

“So, could we safely assume that the ‘soon’ referred to in the light has passed?

Well, I suppose so. But the light went out. I figured that it was okay.

“Do you really believe that cars fix themselves?”


Ironically–or not–at the time I was driving I was thinking about the walk that I wasn’t having with Nancy at that moment. I wanted to get to work so I had some time before staff meeting, to work on….something or other. Of course, tonight I won’t be able to walk because it is Wednesday and I have responsibilities at church. And tomorrow morning I can’t walk because I have an appointment. And Monday night I couldn’t walk because I had a meeting.

But last night, and tomorrow night, and yesterday morning…..

The point of our walking is to provide both fitness and relationship, to maintain balance between work and the rest of life. I, along with many people around me, have the capacity to pour enormous amounts of attention into being at work, regardless of our productivity while there (this post, for example, is being written…at work.) The unfortunate reality is that the only person making me come in this morning, the only person saying that I had to be in significantly before staff meeting, the only person telling me that drivenness is okay is…me. Not the people around me. Not God.


In fact, at a meeting earlier this week, someone asked God to help a couple of us to know stillness, to not be so consumed by doing that we have nothing to say, nothing to give, nothing to be.

If I were a meddling sort, I’d ask you whether you have an ignored “service engine soon” light shining on the dashboard of your life. However, I have to take care of my own warning lights first. The good thing, however, about a light that says “soon” is that if offers hope, far more hope than you have when the engine suddenly stops. I take both the warning on my heart and my car seriously right now.

Excuse me while I make a couple of phone calls.


8 responses to “Warning lights

  1. Ah, yes, hope….it reaches out to peace, doesn’t it?

  2. I just want to say you’re a funny kind of driven 😉

  3. Ha ha ha ha ha…my service engine soon light is on too…and has been on and off…i need a new muffler…don’t tell dad 🙂

  4. okay friends. thanks.

    now, truth in advertising: as of this morning, The low tire light is on, the gas gauge doesn’t work, and the low coolant light is on in the other vehicle. I think that is starting to say something about me.

  5. We aren’t all mechanics…understanding what fixes souls is much more important BTW

  6. I stopped and checked in with my own “breathing system” just now. I’ve been furiously working to get a post done, and not breathing deeply now that I stop to notice. And like you said, who is pushing me? Me. Thanks for the reminder, Jon. My breath thanks you too.

    Since I’m a fellow “sign” watcher, thought I’d share this: I’m enamored by a sign hanging in my chiropractor’s office that reads: “Five Dangerous Words…Maybe it will go away.” I wrote about it in my book and put in a post this week: http://www.wellnesscoach.com/january-wellness-gift-121.html

  7. thanks, erica, good post.

  8. Hi Jon,
    I know it’s way past comment time on this post, but I couldn’t resist revisiting with another “sign” I read today that I thought you’d appreciate. It was in front of a many-kid-populated house on a small side street here in town, where the owners seem to want to make a great point for driving slowly…it said: “Never drive faster than your angels can fly.” Hah! It gives me lots of food for thought…and inspires lots of ways to use the advice. Enjoy.