For The Someday Book

Posts Tagged ‘cars

Most of the time, I ride in the hearse or the lead car with the funeral director for the journey from the funeral to the gravesite. This is always fun, because contrary to their dour image, funeral directors can be quite funny. They are usually willing to regale you with outrageous stories from the death business, if only you are willing to inquire. But the far more important and advantageous reason for riding with the funeral director is that I do not have to drive my car in the funeral procession.

I do not drive a nice car. I have grown up enough to no longer drive a car that is a complete and total embarrassment, better suited to a high-schooler than an educated professional, but I still drive a car that is small, cheap, used and usually unwashed. I drive this car partly by choice and partly by economic necessity. Contrary to popular belief, pastors are not usually wealthy people. I do not choose to use my limited resources on purchasing and maintaining a sweet ride. I am fine with that. I like my car, its reliability, excellent gas mileage and low price tag. I do not have car envy. I do not secretly wish for something bigger and fancier. I feel no shame or embarrassment over my car or its condition.

Except on those rare occasions when I don’t get to ride with the funeral director, and I have to insert my small, cheap, unwashed, well-worn automobile into the funeral procession.

And not just anywhere in the funeral procession. They always want the pastor up front. Usually either directly behind the hearse or between the lead car and the hearse, where my battered little ride sticks out like a pimple on the prom queen.

That means that the whole funeral procession is behind me, fixing its eyes on me and my automobile. Even the grieving family rides behind the pastor. Today, there were three stretch limos involved. So the procession went:  Cadillac, Hearse, me, Limo, Limo, Limo. One small, dirty, four-year-old Kia in a sea of beautiful, shiny, black luxury. I climbed out of my car at the cemetery feeling like I’d just shown up to New York’s Fashion Week wearing something from the clearance rack at Old Navy.

Oil Stain Optional

Would anyone be interested in a clergy car co-op, where we purchase one shiny, new black sedan to take turns driving in funeral processions?

B just got invited to his first birthday party. One of the girls in his preschool class is having a princess party next week, and he got an invitation. He is very excited!

Since he has never been to a birthday party before, we told him we should probably bring a birthday present for his friend, then asked him what he thought we should get for her.

“My orange car,” he responded. “I can give her my orange car, because I think she would like that.”

Suppressing a giggle, my first thought was to correct him—to tell him no, his friend did not want one of his old toys, she wanted something new. Thankfully, I paused. In that moment’s pause, I realized that he had it right and I had it wrong. Gift-giving should not be all about shopping, it should be about generosity. His instinct was to give his friend something he loved to play with, because he thought she would enjoy it too. Even if that meant he would no longer be able to play with it himself.

Isn’t that the way gift-giving should be? I am long weary of participating in the consumerist model of gift-giving, where showing someone love and affection means shopping for them, where the measure of one’s concern is found in the price tag on the gift or the fanciness of the wrappings.

We plan to encourage B in his desire to share and be generous. We will also go to the store and pick out a new toy for his friend, but we will carefully avoid any indication that his first choice for a gift might not be good enough. Whatever we bring to the party will be topped off with that orange car, wrapped up separately and placed on top, with a note explaining that it is a gift from the heart of one child to another, in the spirit of sharing.

It’s exactly the kind of gift I always want to receive. How about you?

B was playing fire trucks with J this morning. This usually involves crashing a car, followed by the shout of “Oh no! I’m on fire!” Then the fire trucks drive over, raise ladders, rescue people and put out the fire.

This was played over and over several times, until J decided to take some initiative. First he crashed the car, then shouted, “Oh no! I’m on fire! Come and help me!”

To which B replied, “That’s interesting.”

J’s fire truck had to put out his own fire.


About Me

I am a full-time pastor in the United Church of Christ, mother of a young child (B.), married to an aspiring academic and curmudgeon (J.). I live by faith, intuition and intellect. I follow politics, football and the Boston Red Sox. I like to talk about progressive issues, theological concerns, church life, the impact of technology and media, pop culture and books.

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