Quail the Youngest has been having quite a time of late, needing multiple rounds of antibiotics, and this morning, I was driving her back to the doctor again when halfway there, the pouring rain turned magically to whirls of snowflakes. It was like driving in a snow globe (I know, I know, that is a ridiculously worn out simile. It is on my to-do list to develop a better one. Oh, wait… I don’t write those… by the way, totally got all my Christmas shopping done yesterday. Boom.) and added a layer of delight to an otherwise unpleasant task.
All doctors’ offices should have big windows (though most of them don’t. I wonder why there are more windows in dental offices than any other medical facility? It does feel a bit like they are trying hard to convince everyone that there is nothing to see here, folks, definitely no pain being inflicted, look at that! Windows! I am not taking the bait, dentist. Unless the bait is covered in muddy buddies. Then we can talk). While my petite Quail and I waited for the doctor, we stood and watched huge snowflakes zoom about the sky and race towards the ground, and then we noticed, from our second floor perch, that we had a birds’ eye view of what appeared to be an orthopedic clinic.
Want some nail-biter entertainment? Sit outside an orthopedic clinic on a snowy day and watch wheelchairs, canes, crutches, and knee scooters maneuver icy sidewalks (bonus points to the guy wearing shorts, a Christmas top hat and a walking boot. We the judges approved of the spirit of the thing).
The only thing more terrifying to witness than the crippled of King County tenuously inching their way across the icy walkways was observing the driving practices of the vehicles that were arriving to drop off or pick them up. I have yet to live in a place where every driver I meet does not have something disparaging to remark about the lack of driving prowess that literally every other person suffers in winter weather. It does not matter if I grew up in a place that closed the schools over 3/4 inch of snow or if my home town had a polar bear as our local librarian (which would explain so much about the general cranky attitudes of librarians… wow, watch me stereotype… look, Ma, no hands!!) — every other driver on the road turns abominably moronic at the first sign of precipitation.
You know… unlike me.
The film classic, Rainman, leapt to mind as I grimaced out the doctor’s office window, because I realized that while I feel entitled to roll my eyes at the antics of impatient, handicap-carrying minivans, implied in my scoffing is that I, unlike them, am fantastic at winter driving. I am an excellent driver, def-definitely an excellent driver. But this, of course, is probably exactly what those minivan drivers think when they see me pretend to be a compact car in the icy parking lot, and surely we cannot both be right…
It is mere days until Christmas, and the joy and excitement is building, and as I have worked my way through this week of preparations and pauses, I see that I pull the same stunt on and off the roads. It is easy to watch someone else spinning their wheels on the ice of their trials and afflictions and see all the ways they should be handling it, perhaps even all the ways you would handle it (after all, I am an excellent driver…). It is amazingly easy to discourage a person who is already in a panicked sweat, feeling their back wheels fishtail when they hit the patch of slickness that they didn’t anticipate simply by pointing out the thing they obviously missed 15 feet before. I mean, if you think about it, this current trial is basically your own fault, right? Why didn’t you just… fill in the blank.
This Christmas, are you the squirrely minivan, just doing your darndest not to take out some guy wearing reindeer antlers on a knee scooter (even if dodging him means that, spiritually, you crash into a light pole instead), or are you sitting 2 stories up, watching someone else ride their struggle bus like it is a bucking bronco, observing from a place of warmth and stability? No matter which vantage point is yours, you are there by design, there because God is good. Don’t miss that: steering about on black ice or wiggling your toes in the carpet, both are from the kind hand of your good God. There is no room for boasting, either over the ease of our lot or over our skillful handling of the skids. You and I find ourselves on equal footing, equally needy before the throne of grace, equally awed and worshiping at the manger of the Christ Child, equally dependent on His grace for the every curve of the road that lies before us and for the road that is in our rearview mirror. Your skill has never been the key to navigating this journey…
Rejoice — He is an excellent Driver.