I live in a very small rural community in Maryland. I have plenty of friends nearby, if by nearby you mean 2-3 hours away by car. Once a week (or at least every other week), I make sure to drive out to the more urban parts of Maryland to visit 1 or more close friends. What I’m getting at is, I regularly drive long hours.
For the past couple weeks, I have been having car troubles. At first, nothing too serious– it would just take me a couple tries to get the car started up. Later (like when I drove to Manhattan last week), it was taking 10 minutes of attempts until the car finally got started.
I was looking at my car’s battery and engine at home. One of the cables connected to the battery was a bit loose, so I tightened it up. It had been extremely windy recently (some of the siding on my home was torn off by that wind, to give you an idea of just how windy it was), and so I figured some of that evil wind might have somehow slipped its way into my beautiful blue minivan (which I have ironically named Sonic, because it is a big, slow, blue thing) and loosened up its cables.
Anyway, the car was working fine after I looked at it and poked at a few things.
Then on Thursday I drove to Annapolis to visit friends. A pretty standard trip. Just before my exit to enter the city, I noticed that I was slowing down rapidly and my gas pedal stopped working. I was able to pull over just in time before my car stopped working altogether. I could feel my car shake as other cars raced by along the highway where I was pulled over.
I turn my phone off when I drive so it doesn’t distract me, and to save on battery. But in addition to having car problems, I have also been having phone problems. Specifically, my phone’s battery no longer holds a charge for more than a few minutes.
So I’m sitting in my car, pulled over on the side of the highway, not even 15 miles from my friend’s house, and I turned on my phone. It gave me a message like this: “BATTERY CRITCALLY LOW!!! TURN THIS PHONE OFF RIGHT NOW OR ELSE!” But I didn’t have a choice– my car wouldn’t even start up again. I was just barely able to call AAA. I only just signed up for AAA a week ago, and didn’t even know my member ID number. I was terrified my phone would turn off while I was talking. But, miraculously, it didn’t turn off, and I was able to request a tow. Even more miraculously, I was able to call my friends have them come pick me up from the auto repair shop where I got my car towed to.
So my buddies were able to come get me. Hurray. I had survived. But this is where the story actually gets interesting.
I had to spend the night because my car needed a considerable amount of time to be worked on. My friends brought me to this open Christian community (open in the sense that absolutely anyone was welcome), based in this one couple’s home. I had never been there before, but several of my friends regularly stayed there. I ended up meeting so many wonderful people, and there was so much religious talk about love and hope and dreams. People were so great that it felt like a gift for me to have to stay the night and prolong my time with them.
The next day, when I was sure that I would be able to go home, I got a call from the auto repair shop. They wouldn’t be able to fix my car for yet another day. Turns out there were more than a few problems with it, which was very believable because of how much trouble my car had been giving me.
So I had to spend another day, and even more time, with great people. It was beautiful that I could become a part of such an excellent community. On my last day there (my 3rd day there was, thankfully, my last day as my car did eventually get fixed), I was talking to an older man, and I almost teared up just hearing him talk generally about how all people deserve dignity and respect because of how much worth they all have, and yet all over the world there are people suffering from things like poverty and homelessness. Those are things that I regularly think about and have very strong feelings towards, so hearing someone else, in fact a whole community of people, talking about those concepts that are so near to me, was just an awesome and empowering thing.
Communities are good. Good people are good. Religion is good, so long as you let it be good. It was actually quite a treat that I had to stay so long. I loved it.