I was struck by a thought the other day as I was driving white-knuckled, shushing the kids so I could hear the GPS guide this directionally-challenged newbie through town to the safety and familiarity of Target. I’ve been mulling this thought over for more than a week, and it finally makes some sense to me. But let’s begin at the beginning…
It started out when my eldest (and mainly vegetarian) son pointed out a large truck full of somber-looking chickens being driven into the Tyson plant. He asked me if they were going to get eggs out of the chickens. I paused a moment as I thought about how to answer and decided the truth was best. Quietly I said, “no, bud, they’re going to make them into the chicken we buy at grocery stores”. All of a sudden I could easily hear the GPS commanding me to “keep to the right” as I continued around the town circle.
If that wasn’t enough of a downer, I had just sat myself up a little straighter, regripped the steering wheel and thought to myself, “that didn’t go so badly” when I glanced to the right and realized that we were now driving past the county jail. I was assailed by another wave of sadness as I fought back tears realizing that in my new life every time I drove through town I would be driving by the Tyson plant and feeling sad about chickens being murdered so I could eat them for dinner and then neck-breakingly flung into deep thoughts about the depravity of man as I drove by the county jail. Great. Just great.
I continued on around the Georgia version of a roundabout and what to my already weary eyes did appear but a graveyard! It just couldn’t get any worse. De. Pressing.
The only redeeming factor to this triple threat to my emotional well-being was that across the street from the cemetery stands a little farmer’s market. Something growing, local, organic, green, crunchy. A tiny puff of life after driving through what feels like the wheel of death.
On the drive back through town as you take the roundabout the opposite way of the first, you see a beautiful new town hall and a (non-working?) gas station that is reminiscent of the Disney Cars movie. Someone painstakingly restored this quaint little station and it looks clean enough to eat off the floors while the shiny green and white paint is so striking you can’t help but stare at it whilst driving by. Scattered amongst the empty storefronts on the main drag is a tiny eatery called “City Bistro” that’s doing its best to make a go of it and revive our little town center with a clean and decorated front window and a sign from…well…at least it’s from the last century as opposed to the gold rush era.
No matter which direction I’m going through town, there’s a mix of sadness and hope, signs of failure and sparks signaling the possibility of future growth and success.
I think the same could be said of my new life here. I can wallow in how it’s not what I’m used to, how I miss this and that, and how I wish things were different. But really, it’s up to me to revel in the good stuff–having a home and the effervescent people that fill it up, the lush greenness of our area, and a fridge that spits out ice and water.
And like the gas station in town that stands out by how shiny and great it looks because someone put some effort into it, even if it’s not being used for its originally intended purpose, you can tell that someone put effort into repurposing it. Right now it’s just sitting there, but when the time comes for it to be a functioning museum, cafe or donut shop it’s ready to go.
I want to be that gas station. The thing that makes people smile, gives them a glimmer of hope, makes them think or wonder. I want to be someone who is primed and ready to burst forth with whatever it is I’m supposed to be doing. Not sitting around decaying or boo-hooing, not content with just getting by in this here town.
And suddenly, some things made sense to me in a way they never had before and the thought that had struck me on the gloomy side of town fell into context. Like Jeremiah 18:1-4:
This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.