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THE ONLY CROSS YOU CHOOSE IS THE ONE AROUND YOUR NECK
September 15, 2003
 
I would just rest a minute. Just a few minutes. Even ten minutes minutes would help.

Eighteen-wheelers were hurtling past my little car in the dark, passing me on both sides: Their bulk and their speed rattled me, physically and psychologically: it felt like they were closer than they were. The roadway was wet from the rain. I drove more and more slowly, with the result that more and more of the monsters had to overtake me.

And, most dangerous of all, I was weary. The highway stretched hypnotically before me. Once in awhile, I felt the gravelly pull of its shoulder -- I was weaving. A tired driver is as dangerous as a drunken one. Behind the wheel of a car, they're pretty much the same thing.

"I'm going to stop for a while and take a rest," I said into the cell phone to a faraway Q. He was already in bed. "Just wanted you to know that I'd be even later."

"Thanks for calling," he said. "Pull as far over to the side of the road as you can."

But that wasn't very far. I sat in the dark car, hazard lights flashing and the seat reclined so I could lie back and rest. The little car shook When a truck went by; with each one, a slice of fear: what if he, too, is tired, and veers off the roadway and slams into me? But my weariness conquered my fear, and I slept.

Flashing lights behind me, up close. I fumbled with the window openers -- whatever happened to plain old windup windows? -- and opened the wrong one. The policeman tapped upon the other window. I opened it and began to apologize.

"Everything all right?"

I explained about being tired and afraid of falling asleep at the wheel and needing to rest. "That's fine, Ma'am," he said kindly."Be careful."

The sermon had been about readiness for death. About the Cross -- today is Holy Cross Day -- and what it gives us. About fear of death and trust in God. Not trust in God that we won't die, although that's what we always think trust in God must mean. Why we think that, I don't know. Everyone who has ever believed has died.

It was about trust in God that takes us up to the door of death and helps us walk through it. Maybe you expect your cross, see it coming from far away: a grim prognosis with a time line. Maybe yours comes upon you in an instant: speeding tons of steel knocking you into the next world in an unready instant. The only cross you choose is the one you wear around your neck. We don't choose our real ones.

The policeman drove off. I straightened myself up a bit and set out down the road. I had slept enough: the road didn't waver in front of me any more. The shoulder didn't drag at me. The sky around me was dark, but the sky ahead was bright with the lights of the city that never sleeps. I was safe, now, as safe as anybody can be, as anybody ever is. Safe enough to keep going until it's time to stop.
Copyright © 2018 Barbara Crafton
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