The day that started with “I’m sorry …” progressed through a series of clumsy mistakes and clean-ups. Mother said, “You got out on the wrong side of the bed.” She just laughed and cuffed me when I suggested that perhaps I should get back in and try the other side instead.
But it was the last straw – I thought! – when I poured the milk over my scrambled egg instead of into my coffee cup. Mother grabbed the jug before I over-filled the plate, saying crossly, “Wake up, Wayne! Whatever are you doing?”
I refused a re-run, selecting an apple from the bowl and picking up my schoolbag. Perhaps the walk in the cold air would help to clear the fog that fuddled my mind. It wasn’t that there was anything in particular bothering me, I just seemed to have a head full of nothing!
Munching while I walked; munching and scrunching; munching and scrunching; munching and – hey! Why was I scrunching? The pavement on the way to school didn’t scrunch. It was solid.
Stopping, I looked around. For the first time I realized the fog wasn’t all in my mind. Why I hadn’t seen it when I left home?
Suddenly fully awake, I was also afraid. I could see the small, loose gravel at my feet. I could see the soft, solid white of the fog. Nothing else.
Not only could I see nothing, I could hear nothing either. Nothing. I was alone and I didn’t know where I was. My eighteen years receded to eight and I could feel the tears start.
Hold on. There has to be some reasonable explanation. Where did I lose the path?
Unbidden, the youth pastor’s voice echoed behind my dilemma. “It is often difficult to pinpoint the decision that starts a drifting away from a close walk with the Lord. Perhaps,” he said, “it wasn’t a considered decision, just something that happened, and you allowed it to take over your day.”
“Yeah.” I thought. “Just like Uncle Bryan this morning. I know I was in a bit of a rush but how was I to know he’d be coming out of the bathroom just then. And I didn’t actually knock him down – I just bumped him. I didn’t make him bite his tongue. He bit his own tongue. But the fuss …”
Recalling sight and sound I now saw it as an onlooker would. Uncle Bryan’s apoplectic cheeks, Mother frowning down the temptation to laugh, and me groveling. It took a while before Mother was able to coax the old codger away, still recriminating about heedless, careless youth.
Pastor Rob’s voice again, “… and these are the things that interrupt our communion with the Lord. We think we’ll make it up later, but somehow it just doesn’t happen. Unless we take matters quite firmly in check they tend to roller-coaster, and before we know where we are we are right off the path.”
I came back to the gravel and the fog. I didn’t know which way I had come or how to retrace my steps. The gravel didn’t help. It was stony and well-scuffed, even recent footprints didn’t hold their shape.
Reminded me of the cornflakes. The packet was empty. I held the top of the new packet and pulled – hard. They don’t usually split open very easily and I was unprepared for the resulting shower of cornflakes: over the kitchen counter, into the sink and onto the floor. I was in a hurry and like Mother says … oh, well, it took a lot longer than it should have done.
Cornflakes. Gravel. This was no help at all. How on earth was I to get out of the mess I’d gotten into?
“Call unto Me and I will answer thee.” Father’s favorite. I would hear him caroling it from here to eternity. On the other hand it was surely worth a try.
The fog seemed to be thinning. I could make out the shadows of … trees? There was something large not far from me.
Slowly I registered, not trees but machines. The UFO in front of me was the cabin of old Michael Hanaby’s new crane.
Grinning, I congratulated myself on recognizing my directional error while retracing my steps. The new development was only about two blocks away from the school. Then I pulled up short. I got myself into this mess. But who got me out? Another apology?
“I’m sorry, Lord.” It was heartfelt. “Thank You for Your help.”
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