Switching Routes

As we move through our life stories–our romance novels, tragedies, comedies, our quests and conquests, our mysteries, tales of intrigue or espionage, our adventures, or our sweeping epics; or our little pages on FaceBook or tiny posts on a blog–our paths cross.

Ignoring the thickness of the cloth, imagine a vast tapestry. It is complex, made of the finest silk, and if we could see all of it, we would be stunned by its beauty. It stretches to apparent infinity in two dimensions. Now, in your mind, add a third dimension. We are no longer ignoring the thickness of the cloth, and the tapestry has become almost beyond our comprehension. It stretches into apparent infinity in every direction we can see.

Now, in your mind (it’s a good one, you are keeping up here–probably way ahead of me– and you can actually imagine such a “tapestry” and certainly such stories), add a fourth dimension: time. You see, you can be in two stories–you have been in many, maybe very different ones–or you can be two colors in the tapestry–but not at the same time, we think. Now, imagine this: Each story is written in one hand with one continuous script and it is a single book. You can make out each word, and read each story, but every letter is connected to the next and to the one before it. Keep going: the tapestry is woven of a single thread, and even the colors are a kind of illusion, because that thread is every color, and the marvelous mirage of shade and tint and hue and shadow and light occurs because of the overlay of that one thread upon itself in multiple, almost unimaginable complexity. It is woven in twists and turns and intertwined knots and layer upon layer. And, similar strands of this finest silk, perpendicular to some, but practically parallel to others or only to each other, they keep going and turn back and all of it continues, as we said, in apparent infinity in all directions. And then, you notice something. The book, that one book containing all of the stories, ends precisely where it begins. Even the last letter of the last page of the last chapter in the last story is connected to the first letter of the book. And the single thread of the finest silk in that tapestry that is too beautiful to see, impossible to grasp, is not only a single piece of thread, it is a loop. It has no end, and no beginning. It is not stitched at all, not woven exactly, not braided. It is folded in and among itself. One tiny loop goes through another, and both are part of the one loop, and here it is folded with a twist, and then doubled back over and under and then pulled through and then . . .

There is no then. No next. No, oops back up, let’s re-read that word, where was it? Let’s find that knot or twist or fold. It is all simply one thing. The book and the tapestry, the ink and the silk, time and eternity are one. One. It is One.

Life.

Death.

Life.

One . . .

It is too much, so let’s talk about here and now, on earth, and certain days within a week, and acquaintances and dear friends and normal good and horrible bad and health and illness and birth and death and all of the stuff of what we see as real life. Ugh, it is also too much. So let’s just talk about my job: delivering truth. Too much. Let’s talk about that other job of mine: delivering mail. Ahh, here we go.

Here’s how my job works: I do five routes, each on the day off of the person who is the regular mailman on that route. They are assigned to one route; I am assigned to their collective five. All of us work five days a week, with some exceptions. We are all off on Sundays, and one other rotating day, every week.

I have given each of my routes a designation beyond its route number, a name based on its character. The route numbers are 42, 56, 65, 01, and 71. Prayer, Gratitude, Joy, God, and Jesus. If I told the mailmen who do those routes about the names, they would have no idea what I was saying. For you, I will give the people the numbers, and the routes the names. You get it, because you saw that tapestry up there.

Last Friday, 15 December, it was 01 day off, so I was on my God route. I showed up, clocked in at 7:30 a.m., checked the vehicle, went to the case for God, looked at the amount of work, and began. And it seemed like barely over a normal day, looking at the work load. After all of us carriers have had a chance to get started, we are supposed to estimate the time we will leave and return. When the supervisor comes around, we tell them. I said, I will leave around 9:30 and return by 4:00, eight hours. Easy day. A little heavier than average, but I can fly through it. And it’s the God route, cool and thank you.

Then at 8:30, 01 showed up. Hmmm he was called in on his day off. I said hey what’s up T*n (01), what are you doing? It can be any of the fifty routes on your day off, but he said  that because R*z* had to leave, he was called in to do 56 (Gratitude), one of mine. Nothing against God AT ALL, but Gratitude is a sweet route, all in a big neighborhood off Harmony road between Railroad and Monroe. I said T*n if you want to switch and do your own route, I will do Gratitude, uh I mean 56. I can do that: switch. It is my call if any of mine are open on a given day. I can choose the one I want. So I did, even though it was my God day and it would have been easy. So T*n took over and I went to the case for Gratitude. Oh my God! There was probably four times the work load of God 01, so I dug in, now committed to the switch. It was official: I had switched routes.

That’s my truck up there in the WaughPaper photo, after I got it loaded. Here it is again:

AM mail

Normally you can see through the truck, the front seat, the mail shelf, all of the large front window, and my backpack, radio on the dash, and my supply tray. Those four flat trays buried under the packages are actually called flat trays, and there are seven in the truck, not four. Normally there might be two, maybe three. You notice that the packages seem like they have been tossed randomly into the truck. Keep that in mind when you pack a package. Believe me, they had been tossed many times before I ever touched each one and looked at the address. And they had run across belts and conveyors and some were tossed into planes, trains, and probably not automobiles, but trucks yes. And, I did toss them, but not randomly. I put the early addresses toward the front and top and worked my way back toward the bottom rear of the truck. And I toss them, don’t stack them, so the address shows and I can mostly see each one as I get to it. Stacking would hide everything except the top front row. When I gave my time for the route, based on this work load, I had said I’d leave around 10:00 and “make the truck”. That means I thought I could return, done, by the last dispatch truck in time to load any outgoing mail that I picked up all day, and get it on that truck before it left at 6:05 p.m.

I started up the truck, turned on the radio, and began to wonder if I had made the right decision, switching routes. It was going to be a hard day, and I did not actually know if I could make the last truck, but that I would try. And I had traded God for Gratitude, and I actually prayed as I drove that it would work out. And I had A LOT on my mind, not related to mail and boxes but VERY MUCH related to God and Gratitude, and even to switching routes. Then on the way to the first stop to get gas (cost me ten minutes, but had to), I just decided to accept it all. Anything God would give me, because it is all his anyway, whatever name I put on it.

I began delivering a quick cul-de-sac (60th Court), and then turned up Stanley Avenue for a long stretch. I had left 17 minutes late, but already I could tell that the flow of mail was smooth. Every time that I turned around to look for a parcel, it seemed to be right there within reach, and each time I had to get out, I just pushed the remainder forward and rearranged flat trays accordingly, replacing empties with fulls.

The music was glorious and I committed to gratitude in it, whatever else God would bring. And then mid-morning along with an increase in gratitude, gradually at first, and then in waves, a clarity took over. I allowed it and welcomed it and had been desiring it and had indeed prayed for it. It came, as I said, in waves and I actually began to weep and try not to, because I could not see the addresses. This is a problem, of course, so I wiped my eyes and blew my nose and kept moving and listening to wonder after wonder of music that was in itself a frequent and specific answer to prayers. Vexation was replaced with true joy and I kept delivering. This went on all day, and much earlier I could tell that I would easily make the truck so I just kept going. It would get dark, of course, and it did, but the flow was postal poetry in motion. I set a goal of making the final stretch up Home Avenue before dark set in, and I did. It’s true that the last push is on Home Avenue and the final delivery is on Harmony Road, and what could be better than the last moments on an avenue called Home and an end at Harmony?

I thought all of this early of course, because of the clarity and the gratitude and the flow. And I also found that after dark, my tears (still coming) actually refracted the light, and increased the clarity in the darkness.

I could go into much greater detail about the entire day, especially the music, but this is enough. And, here is my truck back at the station, with ample time left to amble in with the outgoing mail for the final dispatch.

PM no mail

Those flat trays are stacked on the left, and my radio and supply tray and backpack are on the right, and in the middle is the stack of letter trays that contained all the incoming mail that I delivered. In the top letter tray, is everything I picked up. It is outgoing heading into the station and then to the main postal facility: hundreds of cards and letters, almost all of it a single Christmas wish of joy, peace, and love. And since I did, in gratitude from God and to him, “make the truck”, it has very likely been delivered by now, on this Monday, 18 December.

I hope you got what was coming to you.