One Flat Tire

After the mad morning rush of breakfast, lunch boxes and the drop off of five kids at three different schools in the morning, I was giddy pulling into the parking lot of Radnor Lake. This was to be baby Finn’s first introduction to my sanctuary. I tightened the straps and buckled Finn into the baby jogger, threw him a singing toy, and then started the jog up the hill to the lake. Not even half-way up the ascent I was dripping with sweat and huffing and puffing like an ogre. I was surprised by the challenge of it.  At the top of the hill, I stopped to catch my breath and survey the situation.


My jogging stroller is state of the art and designed for a runner. And I am in pretty good shape. So what was holding me back? An older gentlemen sauntered up next to me in a tortoise’s passing and proffered, “I noticed your back tire was flat in the parking lot.”


Suddenly I was as deflated as the back left tire of the jogging stroller. Just as I was about to turn around and head back to the car, I had a revelation. The weather was perfect. The baby was happy. I had thirty minutes to myself. There were two other tires full of air. I pushed forward.


How many days do you wake up to find one of your tires is flat?


Maybe it’s your child who you see struggling and you feel helpless to help him or her. Or maybe there is a kink in your connection with your spouse that’s weighing down your spirit. Maybe it’s a physical ailment that is testing every bit of your patience and humor. Maybe you are struggling at work, anxiety-ridden about your finances, or grief has left you off-balance in mind, body and spirit.


I have yet to experience a day on this planet where the conditions for deep and meaningful living were perfect. What do we expect when faced with the fragility of our human condition and the unpredictability of the environment in which we are expected to thrive. According to Darwin, we succeed in life not by our intellect, or even our strength, but by our ability to adapt to the environment in which we find ourselves.  


I have a friend who has been battling cancer for as long as I have known her. Her doctors refer to her condition as a chronic illness. But if you were to meet her at the juice bar, walking the aisles of Whole Foods, or mat to mat in a yoga class, you would never guess she has one flat tire. It is so clear that she knows in a deep way that her time here on earth is a spiritual journey. She has this quality of glow about her that is contagious. My friend is practicing the art of transcendence. Instead of focusing on the one flat tire, she is busy mining every experience for its deeper meaning and offering of joy. You don’t even notice her flat tire, because her soul is too busy shining. This is, by the way, the secret to experiencing true healing and wholeness on this side of the mystical boundary.


I would be lying if I told you the three miles around Radnor Lake that morning with one flat tire was not a challenge. Not only was my pace slowed, but my arms and legs ached pushing that twenty pound baby with a flat. But I wouldn’t have missed the moment. Nothing in life is ever going to be perfect. And there are going to be days when we want to pull the covers over our head and take a pass on life. But that’s when we must stop, survey the situation and count our blessings. Name what you have working in your favor. I guarantee you have enough to rise to the occasion. And boy does it feel good when we reveal a buoyant spirit.


William Faulkner once said, “Try to be better than yourself.” Faulkner was calling us to rise above our flaws, our vulnerabilities and especially our secret fears with courage. But I would also add that God’s unique vision for each of our lives far exceeds our wildest imagination, our dreams and our deepest longings. There is a supernatural power at work. Call it grace, divine providence or ridiculously beautiful love but it is left up to us whether we dare to tap into it.


May we not allow one flat tire to ever keep us from honoring the gift of the exquisite moment before us. May we learn the art of transcendence. Grace is for the taking!


Live in Hope,



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