Thursday, May 3, 2012

Down in the Pits

"Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord;
O Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy"

                                                                                              Psalm 130:1

When I graduated from high school I had no real aim for the direction of my life. To be sure, my yearbook reflected the dream of my one day becoming the projectionist at New York's Radio City Music Hall, which amazingly enough is still a great theatrical center in the Big Apple.

But with World War Two nearing its end, and millions of veterans returning home, jobs were becoming harder and harder for a young high school graduate to find. I tried working for RKO Radio Studios in their film exchange. I lasted a week there - the work was exhausting and the pay hardly enough to cover my train tickets to and from Albany. I pitched hay - worked the fields - searched for work - to no avail.

Then I happened to find an opening in a gas station in a nearby town. The manager was someone I knew and liked, and occasionally he would send me 'uptown' to get some automotive part - and I had the great privilege of driving his wonderful old Packard. Who cared if the front shock absorbers were bad - the car rocked like a Navy destroyer in heavy seas. It was the thrill of driving a PACKARD.

It was the days when service stations lived up to their name: full service. Check the oil, water, tires and clean the windshield while 15 or 20 cent a gallon gas swished into the tank. Once in a while you might even met someone famous, like Claude Rains, the movie star. Or beautiful. Or even a grumpy old codger that I hoped I would never become.

It was great working at the gas station in the fall, but things changed as the year approached its end. I discovered that it was hard and dangerous work work repairing or replacing truck split-rim tires. I discovered it was dirty work and challenging for a smaller person like me.

But the worst work of all was working in the grease pit. It was unpleasant at best and hard to endure in the winter when ice and slush built up on the bottom of cars and trucks fell off on me. It was bad enough to be cold - it was much worse with the droppings from cars. If there was anything I hated in the job, and sought release from, was working in the grease pit. would think, if not pray, "Lord, lift me out of this miserable pit."

But that's life. No matter who we are, no matter where we are, we all face moments when we wonder about the injustice of life. Maybe it might be losing a job. Maybe it might be frustration with a boss or neighbor. Maybe it is when nothing seems to work out - money isn't there when we need it - things just seem to always go wrong. And maybe it is health situations. And we think to ourselves, "Why, me, Lord?"

It's all the same - as if we have been put in the sewers of life - or been forced to work down there in the grease pits in the the worst weather possible. I guess I've learned a few lessons about that, though.
We go down here in the depths and do the best job we can knowing that eventually we'll be lifted out.
We may not know how that will occur, but for every  downer we face there is the potential of rising to new heights. If not physically we can be lifted emotionally and spiritually. I like to think that that comes of living faith.

I don't like bad moments.
I don't like bad things that happen.
Give me the will and faith
to be lifted from the pit to new faith and hope.


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