God Laughs

Merry_Christmas_1I’m a planner.  Some of that is by necessity.  But, I confess, a good bit of it is by nature.  And what does God do when you make plans?  God laughs.

This past weekend was all about getting organized for Christmas.  I had planned it like a military operation—there was a lot to get done and little margin for error.  I’m sure Jesus was pleased by the seriousness with which I approached the celebration of his birth.

It began on Friday. We live in New York City and although we are fortunate to live in a lovely apartment in a nice neighborhood, we don’t have any storage space to speak off.  We have a storage facility in New Jersey.  Several times a year I rent a car and drop off or pick up various items.  This time of year I make a pilgrimage to the storage facility to pick up our Christmas decorations.  

Because Christmas trees in New York City are outrageously priced, I take advantage of having a rental car and also pick up a tree in the suburbs.  With what we save on the tree we can usually pay for the rental car.  

As I was off-loading the tree in front of our building, I cracked the passenger side mirror.  The mirror was usable, but damaged.  I was behind schedule and still needed to go to the storage facility before they closed at 7:30 p.m.  So, I set off just as a light snow was beginning to fall.

I pulled on to the Henry Hudson Parkway on the Westside to make my way to the George Washington Bridge and into New Jersey.  It was a parking lot.  I drove gingerly through the snow in bumper-to-bumper traffic to the storage facility.  A 20-minute trip took two hours.  

As I pulled into the parking lot of the storage facility at 6:15 p.m., it was locked up tight.  They had closed early for the office holiday party.  

And so, I turned around and headed back to Manhattan, spending another two hours to get home.  

Early the next morning I drove back to New Jersey.  Picked up the Christmas decorations, dropped them at our building and headed to the car rental agency at LaGuardia Airport. 

I confessed to the cracked mirror and the rental agent was in the process of closing out my rental when I realized I’d neglected to fill the car with gas.  Flustered by my oversight (I’d been rehearsing my explanation of the cracked mirror as I drove to the airport), I begged to be allowed to take the car and fill it up, which the agent kindly permitted.

On Sunday, as we were preparing to head out to a Christmas Party, the toilet in our main bathroom overflowed spectacularly.  I’m not generally very squeamish, but this was pretty appalling.  You can use your imagination and whatever you’re imagining it was worse.  I’ll leave it at that.  

As I was on my hands and knees scrubbing the bathroom floor with disinfectant, I found myself chuckling.  

I’m proud of my planning abilities.  I’m known as “Captain Foresight” by my wife and daughter.  They mean that kindly, mostly.

But maybe I had taken it too far.  Preparing for Jesus’ birth as if for a military operation isn’t really the right approach, I mused, as I cleaned sewage off the floor.

God sure knows how to make a point.  

And so, this Christmas I’m resolving (not planning, mind you) to pray more than plan.

Have a Very Merry Christmas!

Published by Rob Radtke

President & CEO, Episcopal Relief & Development, husband, father, friend, traveler, reader, New Yorker.

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