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Potholes and Wheel Bearings

The arrival of spring in this province, late in Lent, has brought with it various challenges and characteristics that I seem to face each year. As I drive to work each day, I am mindful of the road that is before me. Not only am I wary of the driving conditions, traffic, and such, but also, I am aware of the presence of the spring pothole season that is upon us.  The continuous freeze and thaw combined with heavy traffic, aging asphalt, and unforgiving bedrock produces countless potholes on our roads and highways. Some local radio stations update drivers on the status of potholes in certain areas, almost as frequently as they warn of moose.

In my travels then, I am acutely aware of these hazards, and I try hard to navigate safely; my vehicle is small with a stiff suspension, which tends to meet these obstacles with less than the required grace to come through unhurt. Potholes have caused bent rims, blown tires, and worn out wheel bearings in many vehicles in our area. Travelling is fine in the daylight, and in areas that are well known, but evenings and unknown roads can yield shock to the vehicle, and the odd expletive from the driver.

I suppose that the best way to handle the challenges of the pothole season is to be prepared. Know the path, be flexible in the navigation of the path, and let the suspension and other parts of the vehicle work to the best of their ability. I follow these factors to the best of my ability; however, I fail in two areas: flexibility and patience. My car is less than three years old, already I have had suspension adjustments, new wheel bearings, and replaced a tire. In my hurry to reach my destinations, I don’t always see, nor navigate successfully those dreaded potholes.

I have found this analogy to be helpful in my reflection upon the completion of other tasks, during this season and all others. I may have all the skills to complete tasks, work in teams, fulfill my role, yet if I am as stiff and inflexible as my suspension, I will have great difficulty. If I do not live and move with patience and understanding, there may be many recalibrations, replacements, and break downs in my ministry and day to day life.

The potholes that dot the landscape of the North East Avalon of this province have the potential to cripple and disrupt the daily activities of its inhabitants. The potholes that we face in our life and ministry are no different. The paths we tread, the routes we take, will always have obstacles and challenges. If we face these without the gifts of flexibility and patience, we need not travel any further.

I give thanks each and every week for the obstacles that are set before me, for they challenge me to adjust my route, pay attention to my surroundings, and slow down. As we face the paths of this week and this season, may we use flexibility and patience to mark our baptismal journey with others.

David Burrows

About David Burrows

David Burrows is a priest of the church, currently serving in parish ministry within the Diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador, a place he has called home for the past fifteen years. He consistently engages dialogue and action with the wider community through creative outreach projects. Cycling, kayaking, writing, and driving fast cars are distractions in his life.

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4 Responses to Potholes and Wheel Bearings

  1. Interesting that this post appears on “Spy Wednesday.” I will delivering a homily at today’s Eucharist reflecting on the fact that Jesus’ betrayal came at the hands of one who was called a friend. It reminds me that most of the potholes I have faced in my ministry have come through much the same kind of situation. Sometimes they were expected, and sometimes I hit them with a crash. But in a number of cases, I have experienced what the psalmist wrote:

    Even my best friend, whom I trusted, who broke bread with me, *
    has lifted up his heel and turned against me. (Psalm 41:9 BAS)

  2. Wow. I hadn’t even considered betrayal as a ministry pothole (though you’ve inspired some memories). I’m going to hold onto that Psalm today, because you’ve revealed something significant about ministry potholes: much of the time, we can’t see them until the bottom has dropped out of our… whatever.

    In my integrity you hold me fast, and shall set me before your face for ever.

    Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, from age to age. Amen. Amen. (Psalm 41:12-13 BAS)

  3. David Burrows

    Pothole betrayals perhaps are the hazards of investing deeply in relationship and community. I don’t know how we can completely avoid them, no matter how much patience or flexibility one has. Great comments both Robin and Jesse; gives me much to ponder …

  4. Kyle Norman

    “Some local radio stations update drivers on the status of potholes in certain areas, almost as frequently as they warn of moose.”

    This made me laugh (in a good way).  It strikes me how different our expereinces must be, and yet how similar it is between us all.

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