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A cold glass of lemonade would be wonderful right about now.

I’ve been sitting in the westbound lane of Interstate 70 just west of Effingham, Illinois for over an hour and a half. Well, the westbound lane is actually the left lane of the eastbound lanes since the true westbound lanes are shut down for construction. Just after it reduced to one lane, a series of five emergency vehicles passed me on the shoulder so I assume there is an accident up ahead. I’ve said a prayer for whoever may be involved in the accident, that they may not be seriously injured.

My truck’s thermometer says it’s 85 degrees outside. To save gas I turned off the engine. It started to get a little warm so I rolled down the windows. That’s when I realized there is a dead deer just a few feet from my door. By its appearance and odor, I’d say it’s been dead a day or two.

My first reaction to this situation was to rue over my misfortune. I’m on my way to Kansas City and I hoped to make it to my daughter’s in time for dinner tonight. It doesn’t look like that will happen.

My second thought was, “What am I going to do while I’m waiting for the accident to clear or the buzzards to eat this deer, whichever comes first?”

I realized that this may be the first moment of real “downtime” I’ve had in several days. In preparing for this nine day trip to Kansas City, I’ve been extremely busy with chores around the house which needed to be completed before leaving. More than once over the last week I realized that my busy-ness has taken a toll on my daily prayer and meditation. My consolation has been that I’ve tried to make my work a special form of prayer offered up to God. I’ve never tried to justify a lack of prayer in that way before so I don’t know if it works or not. We’ll see.

“Well”, I thought, “there’s no telling how long I’ll be sitting here so this is probably a good time to spend a few minutes with the Lord.” I got out of my truck, careful not to step too close to the poor deer, and retrieved my bible from my bag in the back seat. As I read today’s scripture from Acts, I was again amazed at the courage and persistence of St. Paul to preach the truth. I resolved to try to be a little more like him.

As I finished my prayer, I realized I’d just received a cool glass of lemonade. I was handed lemons in the form of an unexpected and unfortunate delay and the unpleasantness of a ripe deer carcass, but, through the grace of God, the Holy Spirit helped turn it into a few refreshing and long over due moments with Him.

“Heavenly Father, thank You for the grace to return to You, the One in Whom I live and move and have my being. Thank You for the challenges I encounter in my life. You help me accept that to have lemonade, we first have to have lemons. Amen.”

(Be Thankful for the Lemons was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

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