Yesterday two wonderful things happened: I got to have lunch and help “plan” the Ahava Fest at my church. Really it means I got to go to the comedy club (Comedy Works) where the event is going to be held and talk about how many tables we’ll need to pack in and if we can use the roof, and how exciting it is that we don’t have to pay for this venue and there are already decorations and linens so we only have to do tableware and really it won’t take us long to set up but could I please be a part of that crew and arrive a few hours early that Saturday? And then I got a free lunch at the Irish Pub across the street. I do love Shepherd’s Pie. There’s leftover downstairs in the massive fridge that is mostly empty because the family I am housesitting for cleared it out except for some yogurt and vegetables. I am having Shepherd’s Pie for lunch. Yum.
The other thing that happened yesterday was on my way to Comedy Works to meet up with the others (a meeting I thought I would surely be late for, but ended up arriving #2 of 4, not so bad when you consider my latin time schedule track record that puts me well behind the American world in punctuality). I ran out of gas, and had to fill up at a dismally expensive station near where I used to work. But it reminded me to share something that happened last week, and so, running out of gas-though costing $30-was a wonderful thing to have happen on a windy Monday afternoon.
Last week I was invited to go with soe friends to the Cheesecake Factory to celebrate a little one’s birthday. I arrived at nearly the same time they did, after spending hours in a coffee shop reading and writing. I walked in, feeling sort of awkward because of the out of town family who I did not know. But after we had settled into our seats the situation turned out to be quite amicable and we were soon laughing and getting along like we’d known each other for years. (of course they have known each other, but I was delighted to feel let into the group rather quickly and easily.) At one point, while checking on what her kids wanted to eat, my friend passed by my seat and gripping my shoulders leaned to whisper in my ear: “This is going to be covered. So get whatever you want.” Was it going to be covered by her and her husband? Or by the visiting out of towners? Either way, it was a gift I haven’t earned. I settled on a white pizza: four kinds of cheese and spinach. I didn’t think it could get much better than that. But it did. The cheesecake orders were made and I was asked for my opinion: as thought it mattered! But they ordered the one I mentioned, though I had nothing to offer, though I had not paid my way or earned some token by which I should be allowed to name my preferences!
And then the sister from WY said she ought to be heading home, wanted to miss construction traffic. But she didn’t know her way to the highway from where we were. I listened as a few people tried to explain it when suddenly a thought dawned on me. “Nessa,” I said, “I’ll just lead you to the highway. I drove separately. I can take you. I-uh-need to get gas anyhow, so it’ll work out.” She protested but even in the dim lighting that is a signature atmosphere in the Cheesecake Factory she could make out that I was determined. So she consented, let me carry her left overs and then let me help load things into her car beside her baby boy in his carseat that dwarfs him like a newborn rather than the 4 month old he is.*
I was only a little wary as she dropped me at my car and I turned my key in the ignition with my clutch pressed firmly against the floor. The gas light had come on just as I had turned into the parking lot, and I wasn’t keen to get o I25 with a lack of gas to fuel my speed and keep me from limping off to the shoulder–or worse, simply stopping on a busy highway on a Wednesday night and creating a traffic fiasco involving a multi-car pile up. Hospitals on Wednesday nights just aren’t my thing. That’s much more a Thursday night venture, as are traffic tickets.
But the gas light, oddly enough, did not flicker on in its arrogantly bright orange. So I pulled us out of the parking lot, round to County Line and onto the highway as it bends past the mall complex and North towards Fort Collins and Cheyenne. Nessa followed me perfectly, which is a miracle in itself–I am a terrible person to follow. But she’s from Jersey so that must have had a part in her expertise of weaving through traffic with me. And then, I saw my own exit coming up so I cut over into the right hand lane and watched anxiously, hoping she would realize that this time, she was not to follow me. Her headlights came nearer, but they stayed to my left and then shifted over even further. I waited for her to catch up and then, as I began to veer right to 225, I rolled down the wind, caught her eye and we waved at each other. And then she sped up and was gone from sight as I wound East to Aurora.
And quite literally, after we had waved goodbye, I turned to check my speed and the gas light flicked on.
Which is, I think, quite the gift of God that I was able to made it all the way until she no longer needed me before I was in need of gas. It’s like God was taking care of me so that I could bless someone else. Which I think is probably one of the reasons he blesses us in the first place: so that we may do the same to others.
*Creeden looks like a newborn. He has just hit 10lb. He is gaining weight finally, after hovering around 7lb and 8lb for a few months. But you can keep the precious little guy in your prayers that he would be healthy and keep growing as he has finally begun to do.