We pulled our little travel trailer from storage and headed out for a four-week road trip.
After 10 months of no travel, we embarked on an approximately 3,000-mile road trip with planned stops throughout the southeast. Preparation required some seemingly minor maintenance and repair for both the trailer and our towing vehicle.
We hit the road eager, yet somewhat frustrated as a seemingly minor issue arose. The propane leak was slight, but when dealing with things that blow up, not so minor. We made sure the valve was off, flushed the lines and planned to locate an RV repair service along the way as our local service was “booked up.”
We rolled into RV City in Benton, Arkansas, at 3:45 p.m., just in time for Jade, a former airplane mechanic, to diagnose and fix the problem.
Even as I arranged for that repair, the car reverted to its pre-repair behavior – random moments of what felt like a loss of power. However, it kept running, and we kept driving, sometimes for hours without any further incident.
These periods of time prompted short-lived relief and delight, as the car remained persistent in its erratic behavior.
We had a two-day stay planned for Chattanooga, so I called ahead to Capital Toyota and scheduled service. With no car, we learned to navigate Lyft services and went about our plans for the day.
We approved a suggested remedy, though with no guarantee of this fixing the problem. The car ran well during our next day of sightseeing, but our hope was summarily dashed the next morning as we drove, trailer in tow, to Blue Ridge, Georgia, and the issue returned.
We were enjoying seeing the sights and participating in local activities. We were in awe of the spectacular fall palette of color surrounding us – the hills and mountain sides bedecked in vibrant reds, yellows and oranges nestled in rich evergreen.
Yet, I was feeling frustrated, anxious and downright aggravated with the car issue to the point of saying, “Let’s just cancel the rest of our plans and go home.”
I suspect that statement was prompted by being told again – this time by a very knowledgeable and courteous “Mr. Fix-it” in Blue Ridge – that available diagnostics could not pinpoint the problem. So, it would take a few days to go through all the car’s systems and hopefully locate and repair the elusive culprit.
I really did not want to cancel our plans and go home, so I went down to the river instead. The Toccoa River ran alongside our campground, so I walked out my frustration and stood on the riverbank looking and listening.
I marveled at its clear, cool waters (yes, I did stoop down and scoop up a handful), was moved by its steady, consistent flow, and was soothed by its musical ripples and gurgles as it flowed past random obstacles – a rock or two here, a partially submerged log there.
Obstacles created noises, I reflected. In the river’s case, pleasant ones; in my case, not so much. However, the river kept flowing toward its destination.
As I stood in wonder of the river, and cognizant of my lamenting our current difficulties, I was reminded that because of God’s great love for us, we are not consumed. God’s compassion never fails but is new every morning because of God’s great faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23).
How often in times of difficulty – both small and great – do we allow our feelings and worries to consume us and lose perspective of God’s unfailing grace and daily faithfulness; thus, our own faith may waiver and falter?
There on the riverbank, I made a conscious pivot from lament to gratitude and faith. We had traveled in safety – no accidents or literal breakdowns. We had met numerous kind, courteous and helpful folks along the way. We had marveled in the beauty and wonder of creation.
I was also reminded of Philippians 4:6: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything [yes, even car trouble] by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be known to God.”
With that, I embraced the peace surpassing all understanding and continued to Amicalola Falls State Park Lodge for the Good Faith Media writer’s retreat with the car still erratically misbehaving.
We were truly limping along in faith and leaning into “be anxious for nothing.” The writer’s retreat was a memorable, enriching experience, and I am so thankful I went to the river and not home.
Retired after 38 years in education and counseling, the last nine of those as school counselor serving a campus of 650+ third, fourth and fifth graders. When not traveling, she fills her days with community, charitable and civic work, along with occasionally writing for The Tyler Loop and blogging at Pilgrim Seeker Heretic, affirming the sacredness of life and the sacrament of relationships.