Sunday, September 28, 2008


My Prague Pity Party.

See that picture? It's me in Prague a few years ago. Our family was taking an overnight train into Poland. I was exhausted from sightseeing. We did not (as I had imagined) have first class accomodations. The train reeked of cigarette smoke. There was no decent place to wash away the dust of the day and there was pee on the "water closet" floor!

Even while I stood by the window and felt sorry for myself I knew that I would be visiting Auschwitz the next day. I thought of the millions of innocents packed into miserable cattlecars and taken to concentration camps. I knew I was being selfish and stupid. But I cried anyway.

It was not one of my prouder moments but I treasure this picture because it tells me a lot about myself. (My hubby says it doesn't do the story justice. Surely, he exaggerates!)

This past Friday I drove to the Raleigh area for a book event. I rented a car because ours has high mileage and breakdowns have begun to occur! The rental had little more than a quarter tank of gas. It was pouring rain and I was concerned about getting out of gas-panic-territory in time to buy more. (There are bags over pumps everywhere around here and I am so not the type to wait in line for hours).

Anyway, I found gas in plenty of time. The rain stopped after an hour or two. I stayed with a nephew and his lovely family. The grandnephews are truly grand, the bed was perfection, and the apple crisp and homemade granola were delish!

On Saturday, I went to my book event at Broadfoot's of Wendell where a good time was had by all. (There were teachers, librarians, authors, a fabulous bookstore, music, storytelling and North Carolina BBQ!) Did I mention it was a good time?

Then I headed home. The rain had cleared up and the drive was so serene I could have fallen asleep. I stopped for food, gas and a restroom and felt so grateful that travel in the US is so easy. Even if I'd had to wait in line for gas it would have been nothing in comparison to life as a refugee, a war victim or someone living with severe drought and starvation.

We are so RICH! Just the sheer luxury of stopping for a Frosty or the fact that we can buy fuel at 4.00 per gallon is a gift!

And if gas is scarce once in awhile - perhaps that's a good thing. Maybe we should stay home for a change - we could pull out a Monopoly game and play at being rich. I don't like the Monopoly concept but I have some great memories of playing it with my siblings once-upon-a-slower-time. In those days, I thought we were poor because I compared myself to certain neighbors and other kids at school.

But deep down inside, I knew better. Because I had friends with no telephones or indoor plumbing.

When it comes to our perception of hard times, it all depends on who we compare ourselves to.


  1. So right! I have one of those horrifyingly crass moments in my know, the thoughtless remark that comes out at THE most inappropriate time. I was living in Ireland in the early 80s, when the horrible starvation in Africa was really in the spotlight thanks to Bob Geldoff and Bono and all the folks at Live Aid.

    Long story short...I made a bonehead comment about having eaten so much I thought I'd die, while on the tele, scenes of starvation were begging for our attention.

    I have known poverty, but only temporarily. I've always known that we would have a roof over our heads and at least enough food. It's good to slap ourselves in the face with a dumb remark or even legitimate, valid emotion, as long as we see what really is in front of us. We are one world. I am thankful beyond words.

  2. I knew you'd "get it"!

    Blessings on your head!

  3. A very timely reminder...

    And from someone who fills their gas tank often, I'm discovering a tank can last longer than I previously thought!

    I may need to remind myself of this new lesson when the bags are removed from the pumps. ;-)

  4. what a thoughtful post, Joyce. just about gives me chills. Thanks for sharing yourself with us and great reminders of what is important in life.

    BTW, I was at Covenant Day today and kathy greenfield (media specialist) asked what you were doing these days. So, you must still be on their list of possible contacts. and when you come here, please stay with us! (I can make a mean apple crisp, but no homemade granola) Carol

  5. Apple crisp sounds great!!! Got milk?