A dear friend of mine just completed her comprehensive exams for her Ph.D. in Theological Studies. She and I are playing a bit of phone tag now that she has emerged from the cave of doctoral exams, hoping to catch up a bit on the respective moments in which we find ourselves… but in the whirlwind of the first weeks of a new ministry… time for catch up conversations with friends can be hard to come by. Time for blogging too– I’m prying my eyes open to type this.
The blog prompt over at the RevGals Facebook page suggested we write about a trip that didn’t turn out as expected, but was nonetheless a gift. Upon reading this prompt, perhaps because I’m thinking about my friend and the mountain of doctoral exams she has just scaled, I immediately thought back to three years ago, right about now… when we were packing up to take a massive, celebratory, post doctoral exam road trip– ’twas just Kev, C (then nearly three) and me and a whole lot of stuff packed into our Ford 500. It was a multi-purpose trip– see the Grand Canyon (a first for me), go to the American Academy of Religion Meeting in San Francisco, CA and make it to Portland, Oregon for Thanksgiving. Those were the highlights– but we also planned to see lots of friends and family along the way.
I’ve taken a lot of MASSIVE road trips. I can’t recall significant car trouble or other major mishaps on any of them. Thousands of miles logged without drama. Well, there was that blizzard in Buffalo on one trip home from Thanksgiving. But generally… I have been blessed with significant traveling mercies.
But not on this trip. This trip involved a late night phone call to AAA, on a weekend evening… begging for assistance– and receiving mercy. It is involved not one, but two LONG rides in a tow truck– which actually was a delight to our toddler. It involved receiving and then promptly losing the first stuffed animal to which Caroline ever really bonded (the penguin puppet Dixie the Glue)- which prompted the generosity of my sister who found an even nicer penguin puppet to replace it. It involved arriving at destinations at insane hours– and being fed lavish meals nonetheless. And having our debit card info stolen and our bank account drained (when we were yet a LONG way from home and one stop away from where we had our back up credit card shipped)– but then mercy from the family friends with whom we were staying. And all this with a child who was becoming exceedingly whiny as the tripped unfolded– all the making friends and then moving on was wearing on our little social butterfly– as, I’m sure, was the lack of routine, etc. That said, our little girl did bond with so many people along the way… and it was such a gift to see her delighting in people we love and seeing people we love delighting in her.
The last night of our trip we stayed with friends in Kansas City. These friends were amazing hosts… they even arranged fireworks to cap off our adventures ; ). While with them I got the word, at last, that I had passed my comprehensive exams. That night in Kansas City in early December was truly the perfect end of our trip.
And even all the drama of the trip, as is probably evident above– all of it occasioned grace… mercy from our roadside assistance program, generosity from loved ones, excitement for the kiddo… and it ended with lavish hospitality and fireworks. And really, as I often say, you either get good experiences or good stories… and lots of good stories came from this trip. After 5 intensive months of being buried in books in a library basement, studying HARD six days a week… 8 or more hours a day… having been on the open road, delighting in loved ones for nearly a full month… no matter the drama… was a gift.
Wishing gifts, with less drama, for my friend post exams…