Potholes - Monday Musing, June 21, 2021
Potholes. I made a quick trip to Maine the other day for a family birthday party, and driving home on Interstate 95 the following was posted on the overhead lighted emergency sign: “Caution Ahead in the Right Lane, Pothole Mile 48.” For those of you who are unaware, potholes are a natural underground cavity formed by erosion of the pavement, especially by the action of water. In Maine, there is an entire season dedicated to potholes – namely spring!
Potholes typically get formed in spring due to the weather. When snowstorms turn to rain, water seeps into cracks in the pavement, and at night when the temperature drops, it freezes between the cracks. When water freezes, it grows in volume by nearly 10 percent. The expanding ice then breaks up the asphalt, which causes vehicle tires to pick up the loose pieces, creating potholes. And of course, potholes become worse the more cars drive through them.
I hadn’t noticed any potholes on the Cape this past spring. Maybe that’s because the weather is milder here than in Maine. Or maybe because of the pandemic I have not been driving enough to notice them. So the Interstate caution wasn’t surprising; I’ve seen such warnings before. Perhaps my surprise was due to the time of year – it’s the middle of June, the weather has been consistently mild, and pothole season isn’t over yet?!
As I was driving along, I began to wonder whether potholes could be a metaphor for the pitfalls and challenges we all face in life, particularly from the perspective of how to navigate through a pothole. You notice that I didn’t say avoid the pothole because, as in the challenges we face in life, there is no avoiding it! Oh, you may think you can swerve around it, but it is not recommended that you suddenly jerk your steering wheel when you see one: it is not safe (wandering in the other lane is discouraged because of oncoming traffic), and it’s typically too late to avoid the pothole entirely anyway. So, hang onto the wheel tightly, take your foot off the gas, slowing down, and keep driving straight ahead.
Yes, every road we travel is susceptible to pothole blight, including the road of life. But consider the words in the Epistle of James: “My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (James 1:2-3). Potholes are inevitable if we are going anywhere. Thankfully, the community offers us warning of danger ahead. So, be warned – we are in this together, navigating the potholes we face down the road. See you in church!