Wednesday evening, after Marcia, Mollie, and Rutledge left, I started writing Thursday’s blog on “Self-Nurturing.” Later…I decided to make a couple of last minute changes and added the final analogy of “filling up” at God’s gas station for the next day as darkness descended in the garden.
That night… while in that “twilight” period between consciousness and sleep…my mind fixated on memories of gas stations when I was growing up. These were the full service gas stations that provided a complete check up of the car from gas to oil to “hoses” and tires.
(And a bonus windshield cleaning! As a child this was always my favorite part…watching the attendant spray on the cleaning fluid and then wipe the dust and dirt away leaving the windshield clear and sparkling!…always while whistling a happy tune)
The gas attendant, as a rule, was normally out-going and gregarious…like a scene right out of Andy Griffith of Mayberry. In small towns one could leave a gas station without the latest updates on the comings and goings of most of the people in the town.
There was also a sense of security when you left the station, knowing that, not only, was your car full but all the other major components of it had been checked and either corrected or found satisfactory…either way you knew you were good to go when you pulled out.
This, of course, isn’t the case today. With complete service stations a dying breed from the past…one has no choice but to “self-service” at gas stations. And when we leave the only reassurance we have is one of having a full tank of gas. For oil and tire pressure we have to rely on computerized icons located on the dashboard to let us know when to change the oil or put air in a tire. As far as “popped” hoses and belts… we are just out of luck if that happens.
Some of the full service gas stations became great at marketing their gas stations as the “Last Chance Gas Station” between rural towns or desolate areas like a desert or whatever. The ploy worked. People would pull in even if they didn’t need a “fill ‘er up” amount of gasoline….fearful they might still run out between “civilized” towns.
I get nostalgic remembering the full service gas stations of past memories…I think we lost a lot more than just another gas station when we let economy win over friendliness and caring. Joseph Copeland adds his thoughts to this observation:
Today, full service stations are a rarity. What we see plenty of is “self service” stations. The self service concept, simply stated, is that economy is more important than cordiality. Otherwise, you can cut the smile, the greetings and the window washings and reduce the price of the gasoline. To save money, patrons are increasingly saying, “I can do it myself.”
We tell the petroleum industry that we will “do it ourselves” but, we usually don’t. Hurriedly we get our gasoline and too often we leave quickly without checking the oil, water, tires, hoses and belts. About the only thing that we actually do for ourselves, in most instances, is pump the gas. The idea behind the self service approach is that we can cut out the middle man, save money and still get the same results. We succeed at cutting out the middle man and saving money, but we rarely get the same results.
Isn’t this true too often today of religion? We figure we can cut out the middle man (Jesus) and stay away from organized religions that we deem as too restrictive and obsolete. Instead we reassure ourselves that we can remember to take time to “self service” ourselves spiritually as necessary.
We pretend to get by with an occasional quick ‘self service’ fill… (perhaps a short prayer or two)…just enough to keep going but forgetting to check the “vital” other areas of our bodily “vehicle” to see if we are running low on oil or tires to carry us along our journey’s winding path. We disregard the “Last Chance” signs and assure ourselves that we have enough gas to make it until we can “self service” again. We are in control of our lives.
Then suddenly our world comes crashing down on us in the form of the death of a loved one, the loss of job and career, a marriage that starts unraveling…and it finally dawns on us that we need the full package…we can’t do it alone.
So until tomorrow…Let us remember that out there waiting patiently for us to reach this realization of our human “self-service” frailty lies our “Full Service God“…who is ready to replace batteries, air, oil,belts, and hoses with a smile and a whistle….leaving our personal “windshields” cleaner than ever and sometimes even throwing in a lollipop for good measure.
“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh
* An “aha” moment just hit me…do you realize that the only time we still use the expression “Fill ‘er up please” is when we want more food and drink at home or in a restaurant…especially when cocktails are available? As a society we have gone from filling up our cars to filling up our stomachs…and we wonder why 1/3rd of Americans are extremely obese.
Lucy has made a new friend on the deck….while starting a daily morning ritual (after eating breakfast.) She walks over to “Mr. Rabbit” ….circles him (and the plant he is on) a couple of times and finally plops down underneath the beautiful orange blossoms and takes her morning nap. Too cute.