During a recent journey from Wichita to Kansas City, my check engine light came on.
At the same time, I was nursing a painful hip from a displaced sacroiliac.
Normally, I enjoy driving the open road. I slide in the CD of my favorite soundtrack, munch on a snack and sip some water, sing along with the CD or make notes about another writing project.
But faced with two challenges at the same time, this would not be a joy ride. So I planned several stops where I could check my car and walk around to alleviate the pain.
Towanda: one of my favorite rest stops because of the gift shop. Lots of Southwestern-styled handbags which I dream about every time — turquoise and camel being my favorite — but not the price tags.
Knowing I would be faced with some kind of car cost, I didn’t even consider a purchase other than a small breakfast sandwich and hot tea for plenty of caffeine.
Back in the car, my hip felt better — thank you, Motrin. The check engine light was still yellow and not flashing. On to the next stop, only 33 miles away.
Matfield Green: At one end of the Flint Hills, you can see the Kansas prairie for miles. Grasses, cattle herds, a buckskin horse, places to pull off and snap pictures.
In the women’s restroom, I met another masked woman who, like me, struggled to get soap out of the dispenser.
“Really?” she said.
“In our world today?” I replied. “No soap?”
So we both spent extra time running water. Then I limped back to my car and doused my hands with sanitizer.
The next stop was Emporia. Time to pay my turnpike ticket and usually — a stop at Braums for an ice cream treat. Cappuccino chocolate chunk, thank you.
But not this time.
My hip needed TLC, and I wanted to be as close as possible to home in case the car died. The next stretch of road would be the longest — 90 some miles.
So I whispered several prayers, pulled the CD out and clicked onto a Christian radio station for encouragement.
But 50 miles later, my body screamed for relief. Luckily, I knew about the giant Love station off the ramp near Ottawa. So I pulled in and groaned as I exited my car.
After a stop in the ladies’ room — plenty of soap, thank you — I was delighted to discover a DIY soda fountain.
It is rare in these days of Covid-19 to be able to fill my own cup with plenty of crushed ice and unsweetened iced tea. I have learned to be grateful for the smallest of miracles.
Also at Love’s, I discovered my key chain had worn out. They had a display of amazing Southwestern designs, feathers and leather with a strong clip for keys. In my favorite dark purple with a friendly price.
I figured I deserved it.
So in spite of all the challenges, I felt uplifted as I began the last leg of the trip. Only 38 miles to home.
When I finally pulled into my driveway, I was sore, tired and spouting, “Hallelujah! I made it.” After a refreshing shower, unpacking and a generous lunch, I thought about how my trip home coincided with the challenges of 2020.
How can we make it to the next step — to that place with no daily death counts and a blissfully mask-free world?
It won’t happen immediately, unless God chooses to snap his fingers and create a global miracle.
In the meantime, we’ll do it one day at a time, one painful journey to the next rest stop, one whispered prayer at the next mile marker — until we make it to the final destination.
Hope isn’t always one gulp of optimism. It’s often a tiny morsel of sunshine on a cloudy day or a cautious step toward a goal.
It’s one step at a time in the right direction — with an occasional treat along the way.
©2020 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved
Check out another journey, Sometimes They Forget — the one my siblings and I are on as Mom continues the Alzheimer’s challenge.
Lovely! I appreciate this post! By the way, we have a Love’s gas station not far from the Pennsylvania line in Ohio. I love to look at the souvenirs. We once made a trip out there for a cup to send to a friend! You’re exactly right. One step at a time. I hope your hip is doing better and the repair was minor!
Thanks, Amy. Yes, things are getting better. Chiropractic treatment is helping.
I needed to read this. Been feeling the weight of our masked, Covid world lately and really missing my dad. I hope you feel better.
Yes, grief upon grief. So sorry for the loss of your dad. I know that’s hard.
I’ve taken up running. Training with an app. On my 3rd workout I pushed through the burn in my legs to finish each jogging portion by quoting Scripture, adjusting my posture for better breath and finding a rhythm or cadence. This is how I pushed thru work last night thru my fatigue.
Yes. Hope is measured in our steps forward!
Congrats on your focus on running. I’m glad you’re building up stamina for your busy life – and merging it with your faith. Good for you!