Thursday, March 1, 2012

On Lent and a Traffic Accident

There was an accident on the freeway several years ago which wasn't fatal, nor even (it seemed) very injurious, but it certainly did muck up traffic. Best I could tell, a truck hauling a trailer filled with port-a-potties was the primary involved, and the ensuing spread of chemicals required hazardous materials cleanup. The freeway was completely closed -- every lane -- for hours. Added to that, the accident took place north of where I-215 splits from I-15, and Legacy wasn't in place yet, so the closure effectively eliminated the only significant road from Davis County into Salt Lake, and it happened near the start of morning commute, which made things exponentially worse.

I happened to be driving north on I-15 around 10am that day. Cars had been stopped on the freeway for a very, very long time -- literally parked, bumper-to-bumper, from North Salt Lake to somewhere around Farmington. Drivers had long since quit idling their engines and were milling about on the freeway.

I turned on the radio and listened to a station which does traffic updates. Probably their reports of "yep, traffic is still stopped" had gotten old, so they decided to be creative. They asked folks on the freeway to look in their cars and see what odd things they could find, and to call in with the results. There were many calls and much laughter.

Two things I noticed that day: First, a bit of creativity and a sense of fun made a bad situation a little better. Second, people drive around with some really random stuff in their cars.

And what brought this story to mind these years later?

I've been working to declutter our house. (Influential thoughts here, by the way.) When actually stopping to look at the things we own, to hold them in my hands, I have thought several times recently, "why on earth do we still have this?" It's not that the stuff is bad; I'm not embarrassed so much as confused. It's been a good confusion, though, and a good process.

The season of Lent is one of introspection, remembrance, humility, and growth. It is a time to examine the various aspects of our lives, evaluating and making changes where needed. It is ripe for cleaning out the literal and figurative closets so we can move forward with greater clarity.

By the time Easter comes around, I intend to have a little bit of organizing done and a lot of de-owning -- in our home and in my soul. It's a challenging process, and I am already grateful for what God is doing along the way.

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