As always, it’s been busy around here! (Does it ever stop being busy??)
Ds11 and ds17 are preparing for a three day backpacking expedition on the Appalachian Trail, beginning in the Shenandoah Valley in VA on Tuesday morning. Ds11 asked me to take him shopping for the final items on his list, so we headed to Walmart. I was surprised to see the entrance blocked by emergency flares and orange safety cones, so I continued on to Home Depot with the hope they might have what I needed.
When I went into the store it looked as if they were about to close, so I asked about it and was told there was a major power outage in the area and they were running on an emergency generator. The dimmed lighting changed the impersonal feel of the big box kind of store it is, particularly when suddenly 50% of the remaining lights went off. When I asked an associate where something was, he offered to walk me to the appropriate aisle with a flashlight to guide us. Not your typical experience!
Rather than wait until the next day to finish up the shopping since the next day was already pretty scheduled and I didn’t want to try to pack in more to an already busy day, we decided to go to the next closest Walmart about five miles away. Since it was across from the Asian vegetable store, figured I’d stop in to do a little shopping. I’d been planning to get some fruits and vegetables on the way home but wasn’t sure that store would have power so figured I’d get my groceries purchased right then to be sure I had what I needed. When I came out a short while later, I was unpleasantly surprised to see a 1/2″ scrape running along the entire length of my 12 passenger van, as well as a dented corner. (I was wondering how a driver could have been so oblivious to doing so much damage, but I think the music or something he was listening to must have been very loud.)
Ds11 and dd13 were both with me and each separately told me, “The good thing about having a used van is it matters less if something is damaged.” They’re definitely right. But though my vehicle may be older, I want it to look presentable, and this doesn’t positively enhance the visual image of my van! I understand why someone didn’t leave a note about it – a repair like this isn’t small pocket change. (Months ago we grazed about 3 or 4 inches of a neighbor’s car – it was an expensive model, unfortunately for us, and the repair cost was $700. And that was much less extensive than this.)
As I was standing there observing the van, I glanced up and saw the most gorgeous sky. It was breathtaking – the setting sun was coming through the clouds in beautiful shading and lighting, with everything golden and pink and glowing. When you looked to the right, all you could see was astounding natural beauty. But when I looked to the left, all I saw was a plain gray sky. And at that moment, I thought to myself, life is like that. You get to choose which direction you look at when something happens. There’s always something beautiful to focus on or something to be unhappy about, even when you’re standing in the exact same spot .
As I was driving home and thinking about the damage, I was surprised that my only feeling was minor irritation. Some people don’t care about how things look, but I’m not one of them, and something that bothers me intensely is irresponsible people who don’t take responsibility for their actions. But whenever I thought about the scraped up van, I couldn’t help but think about the beautiful sky at the same time.
You know how when there are times of intense emotion the imprinting process takes place? Well, I think G-d wanted to soften the blow of the experience for me and made sure there was something so powerfully beautiful for me to look at that I would have to notice it when I was noticing something else not so pleasant, and imprinted me with a positive experience to counter what would be a very challenging thing for me to accept otherwise.
Sometimes I feel so grateful for all that G-d does for me, and at times like today, it’s obvious how much He’s taking care of me in even the little things!