I’m really old fashioned in so many ways. And even though it is an odd phrase, I love the implications and memories that are associated with melding of the two words, “Traveling Mercies.” An acknowledgement that we have a Heavenly Father who watches over his children, who protects and provides and guides them on the highways of our country and the journeys of our lives.
So Saturday morning, when Daniel and I started out for Washington, DC, for a “Parent’s Work Day,” I asked that Heavenly Father for Traveling Mercies. We were loaded with a plethora of “stuff,” it was looking like rain, and it felt right to acknowledge that, without the mercy of our Almighty God, we could be in a heap of trouble.
Daniel had made an monstrosity of a picnic table for Lem and Jessica’s little patch of a yard. He had been working at it for weeks, and it was everything that it was supposed to be. Too large for his regular workshop, he had fashioned it in his machine shop that is at one end of the old chicken house. Thanks to the help of Deborah and Jesse, it was now in pieces, carefully labeled to be put back together once we were on site, and loaded and tightly strapped down onto Daniel’s open trailer (that gets pressed into use for anything from carrying calves, or pigs, or mowers or trash or large woodworking projects that he cannot fit into anything else).
Rachel had asked for an additional shelf for her record cabinet/book shelf that Certain Man had made for her a few months back. He had gotten the shelf ready to go, and tucked into a safe spot where it wouldn’t get knocked about. (This is a picture of the original piece before it got taken to Washington earlier this year)
She also had requested that her Dad bring along his pressure sprayer to do some cleaning up under the deck and in the basement entryway. “And would you please bring some roundup so we can get rid of some of the weeds where it is impossible to mow?” The pressure sprayer was on the back of the pickup along with necessary tools for the yard work and the installation of the picnic table at Lem and Jessica’s house. There were also a number of empty planters on the deck at Rachel’s house, so I was hauling along potting soil and a flat of flowering plants and Coleus to see if there was a place for them. These items were on the back seat of Daniel’s Colorado so as not to be blown all over the place on our trip across the bay.
The night before we left, I had texted with Jessica and discovered that our schedule was a bit different than we had planned, which made time at Rachel’s house to make some soup and a batch of bread if I planned carefully, so tucked in among everything else was my trusty soup kettle, a chicken, some celery, onions, carrots, corn, Fordhook Limas, and Ramen Noodles, and all of the pre-measured ingredients for three loaves of bread. There was also the fixin’s for a gallon of Daniel’s favorite Garden Tea, some fresh asparagus for the DC Yutzys to share, some frozen beef for Lem’s freezer, books to read to Stella, and a couple other things that we thought might be needed.
I am not exactly comfortable riding in city traffic, even with a minivan, but when you add a trailer to the back end of the pickup truck, it felt like the Traveling Mercies were really needed. Daniel is an alert and observant driver. He has traveled many a mile with a trailer on behind, and he did well. He realigned his load in Denton before we hit any serious traffic and he skillfully maneuvered his little one man convoy to our destination. It was a smooth trip and even though we had some rain, it wasn’t terrible. I was extremely grateful!
The day went well, and things progressed as planned. We finished up at Rachel’s house (with the help of Rachel and her boyfriend, Rob) in acceptable time, with missions all accomplished. Then we trekked over to Lem’s house for the biggest job of the day. After a quick lunch of chicken corn noodle soup and fresh bread, the troops were ready to get at it. And so, the huge project that Lem had envisioned and his Dad had brought to life began to be set into place.
What a wonderful time it was! Hard, hard work and so much satisfaction when Daniel was able to say, “It went together better than I expected, and turned out like I wanted it to. Stella and Grammy got to watch while the rain came down and it got chilly. Such a happy day!
And then, suddenly, everything was done and it was time to go home. Time for something that I had been dreading all day. Rachel’s car needed to come home to Delaware for an oil change and some other repair work, and since I was NOT going to drive that pickup with its trailer on behind, I was the one to whom was given the task of driving the little roller skate of a car that belongs to our daughter. (At least it had automatic transmission!)
It had started to rain in earnest now, and I had a quick instruction from Rachel as to where the wipers and lights were, and how they worked. I adjusted the driver’s seat from my long-legged girlie’s position that was almost in the back seat and I prayed for Traveling Mercies. There was a light on in the panel of the car, but I didn’t know what it was. I figured that Rachel knew what it was, so it must not have been important, and so we got on our way. Daniel led the way. I figured he could get us out of the city better than I could, and at least I wouldn’t be the one responsible if something we got lost. I also figured that, with the trailer on behind the pickup, once we got out on the freeway, I could logically “keep up” with this man (who has a reputation for a heavy foot) without having to speed. Too much.
I was wrong.
In all fairness, it was raining heavily, and he thought that someone that was in fairly close proximity to him was me, so he went as fast as he wanted to as long – as that car kept up! Trailing woefully behind, I was under great duress! It wasn’t hard to keep Daniel and his trailer in my sights as long as I kept up a little, but the man was really flying. My left hand that suffers from De Quervain’s tenosynovitis began to ache intensely. I realized that I was gripping the steering wheel with a death grip like I thought it was going to get away. I thought dismal thoughts about what would happen if someone lost control in that mess. I thought about telling him go on ahead since I knew the way home once we were out of the city, but when I tried to call him, he didn’t answer. Without blue tooth, trying to call was dangerous under any circumstances. Given the present set, I decided to do my best and prayed for Traveling Mercies!
Then he saw he had missed a call from me and called me back. He was immediately remorseful when he heard my distress, and said that he was going to slow it down for me. We were almost to the Bridge by then, and he wanted to stop and get a drink at the Dairy Queen after the Bridge. Did I want to stop, too? I did not. All I could think about was getting HOME. So at the Bridge we parted ways. I took myself to Shady Acres, (Oh, Boy! Did it look good!) arrived shortly before he did, and parked Rachel’s car outside the garage. I came into the warmth and light of home where Deborah had carefully watched over things and cared for Blind Cecilia while we were gone. I found my chair and put my feet up! Wow! I was exhausted!!! When Daniel came home and had gotten everything unloaded from the pickup, he parked the car in the pavilion out of the rain, and we called it a day.
Sunday Morning. We needed to take Cecilia to church with us and Daniel needed to pick up our friend, Gary, so we decided to use Rachel’s car since it is easier to get Cecilia in and out of it than it is our minivan. Daniel was going to drive the minivan to give room for Friend Gary’s long legs, and I was going to drive the car. Daniel loaded the big stuff in the minivan, (Cecilia’s transport chair, my box of Sunday School supplies, bibles and quarterlies and such) then went out to bring up the car so we could get loaded.
I was in the house, and wondered what in the world was taking him so long. Then I looked out of the window and saw him out at the shop, and realized that he must have needed to put air in a tire or something. I got everything ready to go – Cecilia in her chair and myself all ready — and he still hadn’t come in. So I went out to look what was keeping him. It was raining and he was standing out in the rain looking at that rear tire. Then he got into the car and slowly backed it all the way in from the shop to the pavilion and parked it, got out and walked across the black top towards me, holding something in his hand.
“I take it that we aren’t using Rachel’s car this morning,” I said. “What’s the problem?”
He looked at me with a sort of disbelief and wonder on his face. “It’s a wonder you got home last night, hon!” he said. “When I went out to bring the car around, the back tire was totally flat. I knew she was having tire pressure problems, but I didn’t know it was a major issue. But I can’t believe you didn’t have a blowout or something! All that was holding the air in that tire was the little screw on valve cap. The valve was broken off inside the cap and there were only a few rounds of the cap screw holding it on! If it had come loose —,” He held out the tiny piece. “Put it in on the stand, and we will deal with it later!”
My heart was suddenly very, very quiet . I thought about that ride home in blinding rain and speeds that were too much for this Delaware Grammy. I thought about all the “might have been’s,” and “What if’s” and even the discomfort I felt in driving an unfamiliar car. I thought about the term, “Traveling Mercies” and all the arguments (and scoffing) against the term that I’ve heard lately. And I thought about a God who knew the heart of his daughter and knew that I wasn’t praying out of a lack of faith in His presence or His care over me, but rather the confidence that His Eye was on me for good – that He could bring me safely Home if that was His Will. That I was not alone in that car, driving home, that HE was with me. That I can ask, that I SHOULD ask, and then trust that He will do for me what is best.
It’s just a term, and it means different things to different people. I’m not hung up on whether it is biblical or proper or archaic. I only know that for this Delaware Grammy, who has been extended mercy one more time while traveling, it’s comforting!
My heart gives grateful praise!