On Being Lucky and Trying to Honor It

This was yesterday.

We were driving south. When we got through Charleston, West Virginia, we saw a bloated, high river, roads under water. The rock walls along the highway glistened as they bled runoff rain water. Drainage troughs were engorged.

All the local hotels had overbooked. Some folks had to leave the state to find a dry room after the flood.

My wife saw the water as brown, while I saw it not as discolored but as high water — dangerously high water.

While I drove on, through mountains to the flat land running east from Raleigh here to this beach house on an island across the sound, my wife and I listened to an audio book. The story was about men doing one another harm for reasons which only gradually become clear. It was also about what it feels like to become engaged by aggressive strangers in conversation about the one thing you do better than anyone else in the world.

We found out about the flood only after we’d arrived and had dinner. My father-in-law told us. He and my mother-in-law had stayed at a Red Roof Inn in Wytheville, Virgina, the night before. They’d learned, probably from the hospitality manager, that many people’d had to leave their homes. A heavy rain had fallen.

While he told us the story, I watched the ocean over the balcony railing. We were far enough away that the waters appeared flat like slate, though I felt sure there were waves breaking as the tide waned. It was late. The day was done. Rain had fallen in the island earlier but the pavement had dried. We were tired from driving but we’d eaten and all of us had somewhere dry to sleep that night. We were blessed. I think we knew it. I prayed, just to be sure. Thank you, I prayed. I don’t know to whom, or about what, or really even why I prayed like that, in those words. Lord knows I’d let the frustrations of driving ten hours through mountains and around cities get to me more than once throughout the day. And I was tired, and my wife was tired, and we had to get settled and think about each other and how to be what each other needed through this week away among family.

I prayed because I think we knew that later we would dream, and even later still we would wake up to the sound of air conditioning, and it would be the next day and we’d have it all to do again. The sun would be up and the wind would blow a little into the room when we would open the sliding door to check the air prior to our morning runs. 

Feeling the cool press of air, we would feel a sense of opportunity — the same sense afforded to each person on this planet at the dawn of each day. We would know then, I think, that listening to the ocean dutifully doing its morning crashing down at the shore would be our first real act of worship, our first chance to honor the wild luck of our lives.

Image credit: Jasper van der Meij via Unsplash


One Comment Add yours

  1. Miriam says:

    Very evocative writing Patrick. It sounds as though it was a long and exhausting day and yet you still found something to be grateful for at the end of it. The best way to live.

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