Do you know what your car weighs?
You see a lot of these little bridges along the back roads of East Texas.
I find them lovely and quaint and also wholly terrifying because, well, I drive a big car. A BIG car. For all my deodorant and yogurt making, reusable grocery bag toting, local eating, nature loving tendencies, I also drive a big ol’ gas guzzling Suburban and I’m only ever sorry when it’s time to fill ‘er up.
There. I said it. It feels good to come clean.
I suppose it’s hypocrisy, but I have a kind of love affair going with my, “Black Jack,” and I don’t care who knows it.
I did wonder though, as I stared at this sign, if I was about to be dealt some kind of cosmic justice in the form of a rickety bridge o’ doom.
There we were, the Black Jack beast and I, my three precious sons in the backseats, and my sweet Granny at my side. I was looking down that little road and wondering why it never occurred to me to find out what my car weighs.
Is this something other people know? Phone number, social security number, each child’s height, weight and distinguishable markings, the square root of pi and the weight of one’s car? Are you supposed to know that?
I mean I don’t even have a frame of reference. 3 tons? 10 tons? 1.21 gigawatts? I don’t know.
So as I sat and (ahem) weighed my options, my Granny says, “Oh honey, I’m sure it’s fine. The school bus used to go over these bridges all the time, and you can’t weigh more than a school bus.”
Yes, but well, it has been, um, lets just say “a few moons” since my Granny rode a school bus. What’s the shelf life on a wooden bridge?
In the end, I decided to trust in the ingenuity of my kinsmen and just go for it. As I let off the brake though, Granny added, “of course, all us kids had to get off the bus and walk over first. Then the bus came behind us. We just got back on and went on to school.”
Can you imagine such a thing? Do you think that would fly for one single solitary minute in this day and age?
Lord have mercy, I can see the appalled faces of the TV news anchors now, the protest signs, the angry mobs – children! Forced to get off the bus and walk across! There would be petitions and fundraising and before you know it, spanning that creek, would be a solid titanium bridge dedicated by George Bush himself, while the band played, “When the Saints Go Marching In.”
After a little deliberation, many prayers, breath held and fingers firmly crossed, we passed over that bridge, and we were fine.
That little bridge has me wondering though.
There was a time when a little risk and a little hardship was a part of life, the price you paid for privileges like an education, or say, dinner. I’m not saying that we should all strive to imbue danger and peril into the lives of our kids, I’m just saying, well, I sometimes wonder what our kids miss out on, what WE miss out on, what sense of accomplishment, what strength of character, what inherent value is lost for all of us, because we live in an affluent society where really we are called to risk our necks for very little.
A little hardship and peril will at some point likely find it’s way into all our lives though, so the question is, if we’ve not had to face those bridges before, will we know what to do when we reach them? Will we have the courage to do what needs to be done?
I hope when the time comes, that we cross our bridges with grace.