for release Friday June 24, 2005
by Melodie Davis
Lost—Not the TV Show
MapQuest (Internet mapping tool for finding your way anywhere) is great—it once marked a precise route for us to a remote Maginot Line WWI underground fort in the French countryside.
But travelers cannot get where they want to go on MapQuest alone. At least I can’t. I need the big picture.
My husband and I recently spent a very frustrating 45 minutes in the dark trying to find our daughter’s new location in the suburb of a major metropolitan area. I had her address, and I had MapQuest (or Yahoo or whatever service you use). But, stupidly, I had not looked at the city map and identified precisely which part of the very dense suburbs we would find her in. So we had step-by-step, one-tenth-of-a-mile by one-tenth-of-a-mile instructions for the last few blocks, but after one missed road (that we didn’t know we’d missed), we lost all bearings and ultimately wandered so far we were looking in an area two miles away from where she lives. If I hadn’t had a bigger atlas to turn to, we would have looked all night.
The big picture is what I like about flying. I like climbing to 10, 20 or 30,000 feet and then seeing the ground and the antlike existence of humans. From high up, the cars and trucks on freeways and highways do look like ants, although, curiously, their speed is greatly slowed down. It is as if the whole world below is in slow motion, in a different time zone. And soon you are. It is fun to fly towards a sunset—and watch it just keep going and going and going—although the sun ultimately, too, slips from view.
Step out a few notches further and imagine the perch from which the Almighty sits. The Almighty not only gets to see the antlike earthlings scurrying about, but also views the earth, sun and moon in their orbits, and knows all the galaxies far far away. The Bible says the Almighty actually cares about each little bird—and gasps when the sparrow falls.
But back to earth and that night in suburbia: my husband almost lost it. Well, me too—and thankfully at different times. At various points, when I was completely lost, I was almost frantic and emotional; he was angry. Fortunately we both calmed each other down when the other wasn’t at his or her best. I kept trying to call her cell phone—but it was not on—and I could only leave messages. I suspected that she had gone to a movie where she had to turn it off; in her defense, she was not expecting us until later.
My husband had been up since 3:15 a.m.; he had cooked at a local chicken barbecue for the Lions, and then we scurried off to a wedding three hours away. The day before we had traveled 5 hours round trip to bring another daughter home from college. Neither of us was well rested. Now we were ending up at 9:30 p.m., lost as the poor creatures on that popular TV show.
Finally, he said, “Let’s just go home.” It was just two hours away. I countered, “She’ll be so disappointed,” but knew his patience and energy wouldn’t last much longer. Mine had run out, too.
“Well, you call and tell her then,” I said, dialing the cell phone and handing it to him.
Miraculously, (at least it was to me wanting to salvage this long-planned visit to her new digs) Michelle answered this time. She was in the underground Metro station—we had caught her before she lost contact again. She was just showing a friend that her cell phone service actually worked underground, the only carrier that does to her knowledge, and had just turned it on at that moment.
What are the odds of that? Needless to say, we stayed, she got home, we finally found out where we were (although it wasn’t easy even then with two cell phones, maps and an atlas. City planners and sign makers, take note.)
Did the Almighty care about this mamma and pappa bird wanting to connect again with their recently-left-the-nest bird? I don’t know, but I do know that being lost and not knowing how to get where you want to go is a terrible feeling. Just as having the bigger, overall picture of a location is helpful when trying to find your way by MapQuest or any other map—in the same way it is helpful to know the bigger picture in life and have an idea of where you’re headed.
In the grand scheme of the Almighty, two lost parents and one daughter wanting to connect were mere dots on the highway of forever. Yet somehow I felt that it was one of those moments when it seemed like there was someone up there helping connect the dots, if we take a look at the bigger picture. I know that is dangerous to say—because there are plenty of times when things don’t work out and even terrible tragedies happen. Why didn’t God stop … ? Fill in the blank. At those times we can only say that God does care, even about the sparrow that falls, and gasps, and grieves with us, and wraps loving arms around all who mourn. At least that’s how I think God helps us understand the big picture.
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Melodie Davis is the author of seven books and has written her column since 1987. She taught feature writing and has won awards from the National Federation of Press Women, Virginia Press Women and the American Advertising Association. She and her husband have three daughters.
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