Peg sighed. She flipped down the sun visor and looked in the mirror. Her children, neatly dressed and combed, quietly amused themselves in the rear seats of their six-passenger van. Twin girls watched a movie on the overhead DVD system. In the back row, her son gazed out the window as his head bobbed up and down to a beat only he could hear through his earpiece.
Peg snapped the visor back up and turned to face her husband, Rod. He was waiting for the light to change. One hand rested on the steering wheel; the other one lifted his coffee to his lips. Her family appeared content.
Peg was not content.
“Rod, do ever wonder if this is all there is?”
Rod shifted in his seat. “Gee Peg, we bought the top-of-the-line van. What more do you need?”
“That’s not what I meant. It’s just that sometimes I wonder if there’s something else out there, someone who cares for us. Don’t you ever wonder if life has any meaning?”
“See that couple in front of us. I know her. She and her husband drive that ratty, old car. They can barely pay their bills. You think she’d be pretty miserable, but she’s not.”
Rod nodded, silently wishing that the light would change before Peg went on.
Peg went on. “I asked her about it once and you know what she said? She said her peace came from faith. She said that, no matter what, they’re in good hands.”
“You’re in good hands, Peg.” Rod said, “The reason they’re struggling is because he chose to work right out of high school. I chose college. I know that the path I took put us deep into debt, but that’s behind us. We’re on easy street from here on out.”
Rod viewed their lives as a succession of advantageous moves. College. Career. Marriage. Children. Fancy houses and expensive vacations. Stocks and bonds. They’d bought enough insurance to shield them from financial ruin. They were set for life.
Their car moved forward. Rod’s phone buzzed and he set down his coffee to retrieve the call. “Wow. This is our lucky day,” he grinned, “We just made a mint on that business deal. We’ve barely even moved and already we’re richer. How’s that for good hands?”
Peg sighed again. “That’s wonderful, but you’re not answering my question. Are we all alone or is there someone else out there?”
Rod glanced in the rear view mirror. “We’re not alone. Look who’s behind us--my old buddy from college. That’s one happy dude. Married that skinny girl. Big family. Good job. I heard he won the lottery.”
Peg rolled her eyes. “His wife, Twiggy, and I play tennis together, remember. They are happy. No, better than happy. They’re content. Want to know why?”
“Nice car and a new jet boat. That’s why.”
“It’s because they’ve discovered that there’s something behind all of this. They’ve admitted that they’re not in control. Their lives have purpose. You know, they’ve invited us to church.”
“I’ve been to church.”
“Once. When we got married.”
“Rod, I’m serious. What if what we see here is not all that there is. One day this will come to an end. I’ve heard that there’s going to be a day of reckoning. ”
“Peggy, just be happy. I’m taking good care of you and the kids. We won’t end up in the poor farm. We’re going to retire in style. We’re going to come out ahead.”
“But Rod, what if we gain everything, but lose our souls?”
“Peggy, look around you. This is all that life has to offer. Life does have meaning. It’s not how you play the game. It’s whether you win or lose and the one at the end with the most money wins.”
Peg sighed. She turned again to admire her three gorgeous children, all comfortably ensconced in their luxury van. Life was good, at least for them, at least for now. Who was she to rock the boat.
“Maybe you’re right, Rod.” Peg leaned back against the headrest and closed her eyes. It had been a long day.
Somewhere above them, a voice cheered as a spinning wheel clicked to a stop. A manicured hand reached down and advanced their tiny, plastic car six spaces.
“Rex,” the voice said, “Do you ever wonder if this is all there is?”
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