“The second journey begins when we
know we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the morning program.” –Brennan
like to get a job driving the zamboni up at the hockey arena, or maybe the cute
little sidewalk snowplow. Something mindless—just smooth scratches in ice or
cut swaths through snow,” my friend announced after retiring from her long-held
position as a first-grade teacher.
a teacher myself, I imagined the supposed satisfaction from doing something physical—seeing
an immediate result, a beginning and an end. So when I quit my job teaching in
a small Christian school to move south, I wasn’t particularly worried about
what we would do for work. We had a tidy nest egg which we thought was sufficient
to tie us over while we settled in our new home town.
like an unmannered pooch at a chicken-laden picnic table, the Renovation gulped
its allocated funds and ate its way through our savings. One of us had to get a
job soon. Although we had been cavalier
about our job prospects when we were back in Vermont, we now felt intimidated
about the reality of the job search. Online applications were unheard of the
last time we had looked for work. And lurking beneath our bravado was the
realization that we were different now—too young to retire, but too old to include
dates on resumes.
The Yellowbook Deliverer
I met the qualifications in the newspaper ad —no experience necessary, just a
car—my anxieties competed with the rain for an excuse to turn around and go
home. At exit 34 I gave myself a pep talk: You can do this. You have a master’s
degree, a Bible degree, and years of teaching experience, to say nothing of all
the traveling you’ve done.
crying out loud, you can deliver Yellowbooks.
exit 33, I flicked the blinker, swallowed the knot in my chest, and turned
toward the warehouse.
rain slowed to a grey spit. I pulled into the muddy yard of the warehouse and
drove around to the rear of the building where several vans were backed up to
the loading dock. Synchronized teams of Latino men relayed armfuls of telephone
books, stuffing them into plastic sleeves before tossing them into the empty
cavern of their vans. I parked my car and got out to find the person in charge.
would have thought I’d just kicked open the swinging doors of the OK Saloon, all eyes turned toward me, the only female in
the place—a white, obviously middle class female, wearing diamond earrings and
a black leather jacket. Although as full of uncertainty and as self conscious
as a gawky girl at her first dance, I squared my shoulders, selected a route
from the wall map, and then backed my car up to the dock where the fork lift
was waiting to drop my pallet of books.
sound of grating metal stopped me. Trying to look nonplussed about the dent I
had just put in my Honda CRV, which I suspected was going to cost more money to
repair than I would make in days of hanging directories on doorknobs, I stuffed
my car with the yellow bundles and drove off in search of an empty parking lot
where I could bag books and cry.
days and a hundred dollars later, I decided to try something else.
The Airport Security Screener
The Sunday paper was our lifeline
to the world beyond the Renovation. We’d come back from our morning outing to
whatever church we had targeted for that day, open containers of Chinese
take-out from the nearby Dragon’s Den, and search the job ads.
here’s a job I wouldn’t mind,” I said. “It’s for a security screener at the
little airport only ten minutes from here.”
I pictured myself scanning luggage in my blue shirt and trousers, a
lanyard with my picture strung around my neck. How hard could it be? Hoping to
beat the competition, I quickly scheduled an appointment for the test.
attendant ushered me and the one other applicant into a room lined with
computers. We each chose our spot. “This is a timed test,” she said. “There are
two parts, you may begin.”
English may not be this country’s official
language but government employees still need to know it. With a smugness born
out of years of teaching grammar, I clicked off one answer after another,
finishing Part One with plenty of time to spare. Confident this was one of my
finer moments of test-taking, I began Part Two. For a woman who could never
find the baby in a sonogram, identifying dangerous items buried in x-rayed
images of luggage was as incomprehensible as interpreting a painting designed
by the trunk splashings of an elephant.
Screens flashed by. I felt as though I was in
the scene from I Love Lucy where,
unable to keep up with the rapidly moving candy conveyer belt, Lucy crams her
mouth with the uninspected candies. I rapidly clicked, and guessed, and hoped something in the tangle of carry-on
items was a knife.
test results almost beat me home. All I can say is that the country is probably
a far safer place because I failed.
Chip Chick and other assorted job titles
the next few years, we stuffed vending machines, worked in bookstores, Home
Depot, and numerous other minimum-wage paying jobs trying to refashion a life
overturned from a chaotic economy and a backfired dream. It wasn’t at all as romantic as the zamboni
would think living by faith gets easier the older you get. It’s true you have a
heftier pocketful of memory stones—cool hard reminders of places and times
where He met you. But each new confrontation with financial frailty, health
threats, and relationship insecurities demands its own test of trust. And sometimes, regardless of how many years
you’ve walked with the Lord, your faith, like a victim of Alzheimer’s, freezes
in mid air and forgets how to proceed.
much of our identity and sense of purpose was wrapped up in what we did, now, apart
from a means of survival, so meaningless. This was especially difficult for Bob.
What was a pastor without a pulpit?
the Renovation, it would take time before we would appreciate the reconstruction
going on in our own hearts and the wisdom this sojourn into an unfamiliar land
would produce. And at the end of the day be able to agree with Manning in saying,
“None of [our] failures in faithfulness have proved terminal. Again and again,
radical grace has gripped [us.]
in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD and He
will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust
also in Him and He will do it.—Psalm 37:4-5
Blessings friends--especially in prayer for any of you in life-change and job hunting.