Road Questions

ONE OF THE THINGS ABOUT TRAVELING IN AN AIRSTREAM—people want to ask you about traveling in an Airstream. For people like My Amazing-Missus this is all fine and dandy. She genuinely enjoys visiting with others and they with her. Me too; on a case-by-case basis.

airstreaming in red rock canyon state park, hinton, oklahoma

airstreaming in red rock canyon state park, hinton, oklahoma

Recently we were camped in a beautiful park on a beautiful day. I looked outside and no one was around. So, I decided to lubricate the gaskets around the Airstream’s windows. A car pulled up and a gentleman got out. I’m guessing he was a bit older than me. He started with the most oft-asked questions of the Airstream-curious:

1.) Are they still making these?
2.) How long is this? (Remind me to tell you that joke I made up in the category of “does size matter?”)
3.) How much does something like this cost (if you don’t mind me asking)?

He looked familiar. Turns out we were acquaintances years ago. I had heard that his lovely wife had been diagnosed with dementia and is now in a nursing home.

He told me that years ago the two of them had dreamed of having an Airstream and seeing the country. That’s why he had stopped to take a look at ours—just to reminisce a bit.

He asked if we were traveling full-time. I told him not yet, that I was still working. He said, “Go to work Monday and tell them you’re retiring. Don’t delay. You never know what tomorrow holds.”

Is this a sign, I wondered. Is he a prophet of some kind?

It’s not like we’re just sitting around. We’re out there. Seeing the sights. Seeking adventure. I’ve taken the sage wisdom of Ferris Bueller to heart:

Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. (from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off)

Remember that girl, the one from the Beatle’s song: “She was a day tripper, a Sunday driver yeah…”

For now we’re day trippers; long weekend trippers at best. But we’re moving, we’re going, so we can stop. and look around.

Remember that guy, the one from the Beatle’s song, the one they called the “nowhere man”? Funny thing. I used to see him as a sad, aimless, clueless, hopeless shell of a person. But now I feel like I sort of get him.

He's a real nowhere man
Sitting in his nowhere land
Making all his nowhere plans for nobody
Doesn't have a point of view
Knows not where he's going to
Isn't he a bit like you and me?
Nowhere man please listen
You don't know what you're missing
Nowhere man, The world is at your command
He's as blind as he can be
Just sees what he wants to see
Nowhere man, can you see me at all?

Maybe he is a bit like you and me.

Oh yeah, my joke. An old guy and his Amazing-Missus walk in to an Airstream dealer.
Walt (the rv sales guy): How can I be of assistance to you folks today?
Me: We’re thinking of buying an Airstream.
Walt: Great plan! How long do you want it?
Me: A long time. We’re planning on traveling across the country and back again.

Question Like A Kid

CURIOUS GEORGE is nearly 80 years old. How has this storyline endured? I’m curious.

It’s like that grocery store tabloid, National Enquirer says, “Enquiring minds want to know.”

Why “enquire” instead of “inquire”? Curious, huh?

Do you think inquiry is frowned upon? Maybe life would have been less complicated if I had heeded the warning that “curiousity killed the cat”. Maybe the authorities that said, “Don’t question authority,” were wise. Maybe I should have been one of those who accepts rules, regulations, conventional wisdom, dogma as matters of fact; without questioning.

I love that the first sentence a child learns is “Why?!”

THE INQUISITIVE HARPER

THE INQUISITIVE HARPER

Could it be that there’s a better answer than, “Because I said so. That’s WHY.”

Friday night, we were at Cracker Barrel® with our Grand-Girls. It was our first time there since Nora, the youngest, at 16 months began running at a pace best described as a blur, with hands just as fast. Karlee, the oldest at 6, grabbed my hand as we were walking in, and asked in a voice so her parents couldn’t hear, “Pops, could we maybe do a little shopping after we eat?” Of course we can. That’s Cracker Barrel’s business model!

During the meal, as Karlee was slathering apple butter on her biscut, she said, “Pops turn around and look at all the stuff on that wall.” If you never been to Cracker Barrel, they have excellent apple butter and a LOT of stuff on their walls. “See that NO SMOKIN’ sign,” she asked. (She’s reading really well these days.) I confirmed that I did see it. Then she asked a question that could be important for Cracker Barrel designers, “Do you think they’re serious about that, or is it just part of the decoration?”

Why did she ask that? It’s not like she was thinking about lighting up. I’m no psycologist, but it seems like maybe, it could be, that for kids, there’s a beautiful curiousity for the sake of understanding, for knowledge, and maybe for curiousity in itself.

For many, many years, I sought to have a part in the spiritual development of some teenagers. To the casual observer it may have looked like I was just playing volleyball, snow skiing, and eating enough pizza to bring on coronary disease. I listened for hours to the woes of early adolescent drama, and had more fun than anyone deserved to have.

What I hope I did NOT do was squelch their inquisitiveness about spiritual things, just giving pat answers. I hope I never gave them the impression that to have questions means you don’t have faith. In fact, I hope I helped them understand that as your faith grows, so does the importance of asking more questions, deeper questions.

I’m going to say this outloud, here in virtual ink. I’ve said it before and gotten in trouble for it, probably because I don’t explain it well, or whomever I’m trying to explain it to doesn’t have ears to hear. When it comes to faith, to a spiritual quest, don’t ever stop asking questions. But, know this: sometimes you won’t find an answer. It’s not necessarily because there isn’t an answer, it’s just that us humans don’t have the ability to fully understand.

Take PEACE for example. It is worthy to inquire about what peace is and how we find it, and while we can experience a degree of it, and sometimes in sufficient quantity, we will never know it fully, because this we know for sure, the peace of God, transcends all understanding. (Philippians 4:7)

I’m not saying there is not absolute Truth. I am saying we can not know it fully; here. We get glimpses of it, and there is always more to learn. When we reduce it all to black and white, inquiry stops. And, when we want to ask questions, we’re told to “accept by faith.” It seems to me that nothing suffocates the journey of faith quite like that attitude: “Don’t question, accept by faith.”

I have a dear friend who is on a quest. She is asking very hard questions which has led me to ask questions, which has awakened something in me, and I am grateful. Perhaps I can tell you more about this in another post.

All human beings by nature desire to know.
— Aristotle

WHY?!

I'VE BEEN THROUGH INTERROGATION BEFORE. It was seventh-grade. Unwittingly, I had been swept up in an organized crime ring. (That was my story then, and I’m sticking to it.)

We lived on the south edge of Tulsa, but in the Jenks school district. Jenks was then a thriving small town. Most of the stores along Main Street were open for business (before Wal Mart), except for the movie theatre which had long been shuttered.

One afternoon after school, I was invited to climb the fire escape on the back of the theatre building, to the roof where there was a hatch door into what was the projection booth. Word was, there was free soda pop there. What I didn’t know at the time was that the pop had been stolen off a Pepsi® delivery truck sitting at Parker’s Grocery at lunch time.

The fun lasted for several days until one day; boy by boy, summons were issued from the principal’s office, and the interrogation began: who, what, where, when, WHY. Claims of innocence fell on deaf ears. And Mr. Burchett’s paddle fell on my backside. Despite his prophecies, I have never served hard time.

Last week, (maybe in payment for past sins, ha) our two oldest Grand-Girls (six and three) came to visit while their parents took a well-deserved vacation. We had a great time, but by the time we watched the taillights of their mini-van disappear in the distance, I was feeling the weariness of interrogatives:

  • Why can’t I have an ice cream sandwich for breakfast?
  • When will it be my turn? Why?
  • What are you doing? Why?
  • Why can’t I have some of your special, old grape juice? (Just kidding)
  • Why can’t we swim when it’s lightening?
  • What’s a crispy critter?
  • Once, I rolled out the old tried and true: “Because I said so. That’s why?” To which the six-year-old replied, “Oh Pops, you’re silly.”

My last resort answer to the unanswerable “Why” was: “Maybe someday you’ll understand.”

[graphic by Molly Hennesy]

[graphic by Molly Hennesy]

Saturday, we attended a memorial service for little twin boys, the children of some very, very special people. This memorial service was on what would have been the one-year birthday of their brother, had he lived. I am not making this up. Even as I type this, it doesn’t seem right in any sense of that word. This amazing young couple I’m sure, has been haunted by the question that they undoubtedly hear regularly from their beautiful three-year-old daughter, “Why?!”

I know they are people of deep faith, but I don’t presume to know what they are going through. There is no way I can begin to understand.

I do know this: for me, sometimes, faith doesn’t answer the Why question. It just says, “Maybe someday you’ll understand.”

God. I hope so.


Here are the lyrics to one of my favorite songs. It’s by a band called, Jars Of Clay. I encourage you to give it a listen.

SILENCE

Take, take ’til there’s nothing
Nothing to turn to
Nothing when you get through

Won’t you break?
Scatter pieces of all I’ve been
Bowing to all I’ve been running to
Where are you?

Where are you?

Did you leave me unbreakable?
Did you leave me frozen?
I’ve never felt so cold

I thought you were silent
And I thought you left me
For the wreckage and the waste
On an empty beach of faith, was it true?

Yes I, I got a question
I got a question, where are you?

Scream, deeper I wanna scream
I want you to hear me
I want you to find me

Yes I, I want to believe
But all I pray is wrong
And all I claim is gone

And I, I got a question
I got a question, where are you?

And well I, I got a question
I got a question, where are you?

Where are you?