Early this morning, around half past midnight, I awoke to the rhythmic sounds and vibrations of something slamming into our street. I had been half dreaming and imagined the Incredible Hulk, growling and pounding the ground with his clenched fists and thinking, “What could have made Bruce Banner so mad?”
The crashing sounds continued and, now fully awake, I pulled on my jogging suit, ran downstairs and outside to see trucks, tractors, backhoes, and workers from the Fort Worth Water Department lined up in front of our house. A number of neighbors (young and old, a dozen or so) were already out, dressed in their robes, sweats and PJ’s, rubbing their eyes and staring from the shadows of their lawns at the orchestrated cacophony of flashing lights, beeping alarms, and growling machinery.
It was an odd sight.
Not because kids and parents and neighbors of all shapes and sizes and ages were out on their lawns and sidewalks in the middle of the night staring at the murky water breaking through the pavement. Seeing people out of their houses at all hours of the day and night, and in all manner of dress and undress, has become a fairly normal sight these days.
Time has become ambiguous, even irrelevant, in this Pandemic.
We work at 1:00 am and sleep at noon, and I think it’s somewhere around 7:00 pm! (Not to brag, but I haven’t been late to any meetings in over two months!) The other evening, around 11:00 pm, I took a short walk around the block and saw three opossums (a family I guess) sitting on the the steps in front of our neighbor’s house. Just sitting, blithely staring at three men on the other side of the street who were conversing loudly across their lawns to each other.
It must have seemed an odd sight to the marsupials.
But what was so odd about the sight this morning at 12:30 am was that the massive water leak in our street had been repaired just three hours before. I know this because we had been without water most of the day. I know because I spoke with one of the Water Department guys. I watched as the bulldozer covered the gaping hole with sand and dirt where they had repaired the broken pipe; I was there while the guy smoothed out the fresh tar and gravel with his shovel to finish it off. I know this because that guy said, “Yep, this ought to take care of it” with such confidence.
And when all the tractors and utility trucks drove away around 9:00 pm, I went back in the house and told Linda, “It’s all fixed. We can take our showers now!”
Sadly, we decided to wait till morning.
A couple of the kids ran into the dark street, their flashlights attuned to the asphalt in front of them. As they zig-zagged back and forth like dogs drawn to a scent, following the lines in the pavement, tiny cracks continued to open all over the street, and new water pushed through.
A lone biker roared up along the side of the road to avoid the gaping cracks; he pulled his Harley to the curb and got off to take in the curious event. I wasn’t the least bit taken aback when he approached me. He was about 6’5” and 275 pounds, tattooed, wearing a size-or-two-too-small denim jacket with some kind of club affiliation emblazoned on it — and I was sitting alone on our lawn in my grey sweat pants and t-shirt.
He took the opportunity of my presence to illuminate me as to the reason for the water breaks in the street: “It’s the back water air pressure,” he said. “They plugged the pipes up the street where they’re laying in new lines at the intersection. Didn’t turn the down line South, or correct the outflow properly, so the air and water got nowhere to go but up!” He laughed as he pointed to the cracks now opening up in front of our driveway.
I had no idea what he was talking about, but it was pretty obvious the water “got no where else to go.”
So I’m writing now at 1:30 am, while Bruce Banner and friends continue to pound the street outside my window, to simply ask you, Dear Friends, “How are you doing? How are your loved ones and friends? How has COVID-19 or the economy, or the oddities or worries (or simply the Sabbath time apart) affected you, or changed life for you — if at all? How is life holding together for you?”
This Sunday, Linda and I continue our conversations with our new series, “Disruptions: Parables and Pandemics.”
Parables are meant to awaken us, to open us up to new ways of seeing something, of relating to the world, to God, or to ourselves. So, we’ll explore the parable of the Pearl of Great Price in the Gospel of Matthew, as well as parables from Frazier, Greek mythology, and even Netflix’s “Restaurants on the Edge!”
For now, though, let’s think about where and how life breaks us open. It feels strange, maybe a little scary at times. After a while, though, if we’re paying attention, we start to realize, there is a crack in everything. Everything, and every one of us, can feel broken at times.
But that’s how the light gets in.
And that’s where we just might find the “pearl of great price.”
Join us online this Sunday, May 17, at 11:11 am for 35 minutes of storytelling, curious ideas and inspiration, and the amazing musical stylings of Brad Thompson and the band. (You can find the link view this service below.)
We hope you are doing well, and we look forward to being with you on Sunday!
Rev. Tom McDermott
Join us on Sunday morning, right here! (Be sure to register your attendance online so we’ll know you’re with us!