Sunday, February 25, 2007
The Mirror is Broken
The rearview mirror in Brenda’s car came off. Again.
It broke in December. The dealership wanted $82.50 for a new one. Seemed a little steep. The local auto parts store had a generic one for $16. I cleaned the glass surface well and ran a heater a half hour to warm it up a bit, hoping to give the glue a better chance.
Apparently that wasn’t enough because this morning I found it on the floor of the car. Brenda didn’t want to tell me. She thinks the two side mirrors are plenty and didn’t want me to try and fix it again.
So it is sitting on my desk. I’ve scraped the glue off and it is ready to go back on when the temperature rises a little more around here and I find a stronger glue.
She may not think she needs a third mirror, but I do. I always scan all three mirrors when I’m driving. I try to be aware of everything going on around me while I am on the road, even assessing the driving patterns of everyone within view so I can predict how they may respond to changing situations when they happen to be near.
I don’t want her to be surprised by something emerging from a blind spot, or rely on a side mirror that is momentarily blocked by the imposing nose of our dog.
I’ve written lately about how busy I am, and a bit about my slight bout with depression. A little thing like a broken mirror is a trivial task, but it is another one thrown onto the pile of tasks which tower over me.
I could write several hundred words listing the projects and tasks that are already on my plate, but it's best I do not. First, it would seem I must be exaggerating. Secondly, even if you believed it, the list is long enough to bore you. And there are always things begging to be added to the pile.
A good friend of mine wishes me to make a short little video promoting our annual church camp out. “It doesn’t have to be anything fancy...” A colleague at work handed me a mini digital video tape this week containing the events of a retirement party. “Just transfer it to a DVD.” A workaholic teacher I know in Hillsboro has asked me to meet this coming Saturday to discuss creating a set of learning CDs for kids and teachers to use in robotics programs. “It’s just going to be a few hours to set the direction. Then we can get together for three days during Spring Break. You’ll be paid for all of it of course. And maybe you can do a presentation later this Spring at a conference.”
Brenda is feeling overwhelmed about the work we are doing in raising our children, and her frustration is showing. I feel it also.
And the mirror is broken.
Well, at least we found the leak that was ruining the linoleum in the laundry room, and got the overheating problem of the car engine repaired. We haven’t much money for Jeremiah’s 18th birthday present, but then he doesn’t seem to really care what he gets.
I’ve taken on a small daily task to keep me mindful of Lent, as is my annual custom (no beard shaving this year!). I am meeting with various groups for prayer and spiritual companionship. Such spiritual disciplines are healthy and I really do enjoy them.
There are the zillions of cares and concerns which come with raising special needs kids, any kids really, compounding the cares of everyday life. Those seem to be a little more urgent of late.
I’m concerned about the quality of my teaching, about the individual challenges my students face, and those undertaking my study skills program. It seems to me that looking at the pile of things pressing at my back isn’t healthy.
Fortunately I’m not concerned about Britney Spear’s haircut, or whether Scorsese is going to finally get an Oscar. I don’t care about the dramas of American faux royalty.
And while I am concerned about such global issues of peace and the environment, I tend to limit my involvement to prayer and doing what I can in my own home and community.
It seems this mirror lying upon my desk is an apt little metaphor. It represents several things. It stands for one more little burden, one more little task that needs doing. It is the sort of task that should be done. It should be done because I want my wife to be safe while she drives. It should be done because it is something directly tied to my family and my role as the caretaker of such things.
It is also interesting to think about what it is. When I hold it to clean the old glue off I see my own reflection. Greying hair, deeper wrinkles about my eyes reflecting how tired I have become. Mirrors are also often about ourselves. Looking at who we are, what we are really like. They don't lie.
This particular mirror is designed to look backward. A useful thing at times, but not what we should do an awful lot of. It makes me think that the most important thing to be doing while driving is look forward. See where we are going, where our destination lies.
Of course that is where my Lord is. He is ahead of me. He is making rough paths smooth, leading me to where I should go.
So, I will let the mirror lay upon my desk for a little while, awaiting the changing seasons to bring about a suitable temperatures.
And it is a nice little reminder of how little things can have their place in the line of tasks to be done, and not worry too much about all of the details.
The mirror is broken.