A number of years ago when I was living in New York City, an acquaintance offered to take me out for a drive in his car. Living in an urban area, and having to rely routinely on public transportation, his offer was pretty appealing. But when I saw how old and unreliable the car looked, I had serious misgivings. However, he reassured me that everything would be fine, and I put my concerns behind me as we drove off.

Once we pulled onto the expressway, I began to enjoy seeing the sights beyond the city. It was so fun to be in a car again. And then, all of a sudden, the car sputtered, and the engine died in a confluence of 16 lanes where two expressways melded into one. All this was made worse by the fact that a professional baseball game had just ended, and hundreds of cars were streaming onto the roadway. People began to honk and make rude gestures as they tried to get around us.

My friend managed to maneuver the car out of heavy traffic into a tiny area between two groups of merging lanes, and there we sat. All this happened before cellphones so we had no way of contacting anyone or letting anybody know what had happened to us. It looked as if we'd probably be stuck there for hours. Even the idea of a patrolman seeing us and reaching us through all those lanes of backedup traffic seemed totally remote.

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Prayer on the ice
March 3, 2008

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