Monday, May 21, 2007


Her power steering is dead at the moment. This fact must be totally understood if anything good is to come of this story. Whatever……I know that her power steering is gone because I drove her car down to the beach this morning. It’s not the easiest thing to do at this hour of the morning, driving without power steering, and no caffeine to assist me yet. The vehicle in question is my daughters Honda. “Dad I have no more power steering”, was not exactly the thing that I wanted to hear last night. I have to say that I am proud of the fact that my daughter knows what power steering is, but the important item for the moment is that she doesn’t know how to fix it. That’s where I come in.
Unfortunately, I have been blessed, or cursed, with a mechanical aptitude that doesn’t allow me, in good conscience, the luxury of passing this off on a professional.
So I know that this means two things for certain. Number one is that my week has already been destined to not go as planned. For those of you who know me, you realize that this is not a good thing. Number two on my list of certainties is that I will be soon visiting an emporium of used automobile mechanical accoutrements, otherwise known as a junkyard. I know that to be perfectly PC about this, especially in the great Northwest, I would refer to them as automobile recycling establishments. I’ve spent years visiting these places and believe me, they are just what the name implies…….junkyards. Most of them complete with the obligatory resident dog. You can dress it up anyway you want to, but in the end, most of them are large yards with junk in them, hence the name junkyard.
Some of my favorite moments of my previous lives have dealt with my visits to a local junkyard. The best ones are the ones where you can go with a tool box and pull the parts off yourself. There is something about that which reaches a forbidden part of the soul I guess. It’s a kind of a legalized car stripping operation. Maybe it’s a “Gone in Sixty Seconds, Nicolas Cage, kind of experience. Or at least in my case, it’s “Gone in Sixty Minutes”. I guess that’s why I didn’t try a life of crime.
Anyway, when you live where I live now, in the midst of a major metropolitan area, you can’t legally enjoy car stripping, like I have been able to do in other parts of America. I have to settle on some guys in greasy overalls to pull it off for me. I get to make the phone call, venture down to the “store” and pick up my “pre-owned part”. It’s kind of an “AutoZone gone bad” type of experience. The stores in question are greasy, the parts in question are greasy, the questionable employees are greasy. Can I tell you that it is overall, just a greasy experience. You should try it sometime. And all of this is nothing compared to what follows afterwards in my quest to play car surgeon and the organ replacement that I’m about to embark on.
I must tell you though, as unappealing as it all may sound to some of you more well heeled types, there is nothing like the feeling that comes over one when the surgery is successful. I can already anticipate the joy of winding along the beach, freely wheeling said Honda with merely my finger tips as opposed to the Popeye like forearms that it takes now. A good share of the satisfaction comes from the knowledge that another pre-owned, pre-loved, and otherwise used part has received a second life of sorts. This morning, there is a power steering unit, probably long since removed from its original owner and purpose, waiting on a dusty shelf with a greasy tag wired to it, just waiting for reclamation and a second chance. It was created with a purpose and still has that purpose contained within it as it waits on the shelf. All it needs is a second chance. I intend to give it one.
I know people like that…used, pre-owned, pre-loved, slightly greasy. They’re waiting for a second chance. I encounter many of them in my pastoral arts profession. I have been with them. I have been one of them. I guess maybe that this is part of the correlation between my satisfaction with junkyards and used parts and my relationship to my community o’ faith. We all have an original owner, created with an original purpose, unique to us all. And we are all in some stage of waiting reclamation. Some of us are still waiting on the shelves. Some of us are in the process of being installed, and some of us are already winding the curves along the beach. All of us should be thankful for that second, or third, or twenty ninth chance.
Junkyards are a wonderful thing. I think that we have done them a disservice by trying to mold them into a PC type of terminology. We can call them recycled. We can call them salvage (which is just French for “junk”). We can call them pre-owned, or pre-loved. We can lure ourselves into a denial state, or we can call it like it is. One of the most comforting parts of the Book of Books for me is the part that says “ all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”. Literally it means that we’ve all missed the mark of perfection. We’ve all lost sight or lost the ability to perform up to our original intent. Any thinking other than that is just denial. Fortunately, we have someone who is fully and totally able to perform the replacement operation necessary. He loves the process. He came up with it. He loves the satisfaction of seeing a life reclaimed to its original purpose. I read where heaven, assuming that you believe in such a place, throws a great party each time a salvage operation is successful. He’s a wonderfully gifted mechanic. And the really good news is that He loves to wander in junkyards.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Loved your story...and oh, so true. Both the about the car and people.