Friday, October 8, 2010


I took my truck in for an oil change a couple of weeks ago and had the dealer check the front-end alignment while it was there. I felt it was a little off. Turns out it was off, way off. In my experience, unless you have some kind of accident or hit a really nasty hole or bump, alignment tends to slowly get out of adjustment. It is one of those things that I don’t really notice until it is fixed. But I realized what I was doing more and more as the months passed was steering more and more to the right as my truck tried to go my and more to the left. This wasn’t really good for me or the truck. At some point, alignment can get so far off that it actually get fairly dangerous to drive the vehicle.

But this isn’t a post about auto mechanics. (Though if it were, my Dad would be proud. He spent his early adult life as a General Motors mechanic and then fixed aircraft during the Korean War.) This is a post about my spiritual life and perhaps yours. I am officially on vacation much of this month. For me, vacation isn’t just about some fun time away; it is about re-creation and re-alignment. This year it is especially important. I have fallen into the pattern of taking most of my vacation and comp time and renewal time all at once in the fall. Last year I did this but also snuck away for a couple of long weekends during the year to tide myself over. This year, I never really did that. I pretty much went full-steam from last October to this October. The only break I took was for a couple of surgeries and even then I got back to work as soon as the meds wore off.

What I realized, as I got closer to this vacation time, was that I had gotten way out of alignment. Just like I don’t notice the gradual changes in my truck when I drive it almost every day, I don’t notice the gradual changes in me when I work almost every day. Fortunately, I don’t think I am fatally out of alignment, but I could use some correction. There are a couple of things I notice when I really check in on myself. (Put myself in the shop to keep up the rapidly tiring metaphor.) One is a misalignment of priorities. And this is a big thing. It affects how I spend my time and energy, what I worry about, what I focus on. When I step back and take inventory, I am not always pleased at what I put first or how I handled the stuff I put last. There other thing I notice in my misalignment is that just like in my truck, I am steering way too hard. When I am out of alignment, I am out of alignment with God’s will for my life. When I am aligned and refreshed and connected, the path at times may be difficult, but it is fairly clear to follow. When I am overtired and overspent, I am constantly correcting and over-steering – working way too hard because I am not driving on the right path.

Let me try another analogy. Ever driven on the beach? (For my environment loving friends – yes you are right, we should really keep our cars off the beach but this is just an analogy.) Have you driven on the part where the sand is pretty deep? And have you ever tried to stay in the ruts that are already there but found that the stance of your car or truck is just a little wider or narrower than the ruts? It is this horrible constant steering in and out of the ruts. But when, all of a sudden, you hit a section where your wheels fit, you don’t even really have to steer. Just keep your foot on the gas and likely those ruts will lead you right to the next beach access road.

So that is what I am trying to do on my time off: get my wheels back in the ruts (the ones made by God) and get myself back in alignment. That might entail some reading, some writing, some sleeping, some praying, some hiking and who know what else. I will just try and follow the track.



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