The story of picking up pennies reminded me of a hot summer day a few months ago.
I had an out-of town assignment to talk to a new developer in a rural area. I wasn't in the mood to drive so far that morning. I'd been feeling pretty low for a while; I was feeling no joy.
As I reached for my door knob to leave my house that morning, I had a flash.
"You have not because you ask not."
It rocked my world that morning. It stopped me in my tracks, and before I pulled the door open, I lifted my eyes towards heaven and prayed "Lord, I pray for travel mercies today and I ask you to restore the joy in my life." Peaceful calmness settled on my shoulders as I walked through the door and got in the car.
It was about an hour and a half drive. There was a bit of unexpected coolness in the morning air which was refreshing.
I decided to avoid I-35 South until I was well past Norman. Instead, I took I-44 and stopped in Newcastle to get something to drink at the Sonic there. I had been listening to a book on tape -- some silly, badly written murder mystery. I rolled my eyes listening to the ridiculous character development and the unbelievable relationships among the characters. I was glad this trashy tale only cost me a couple of bucks from a discount bookstore at the outlet mall in Gainesville, Texas. I knew it would help me stay awake as I thought of ways it could have been better written.
As I pulled out of Sonic, I remembered the prayer I had prayed leaving the house, and repeated it. I prayed it again as I merged from SH 9 onto I-35 South near Goldsby.
By mid-morning I arrived at the development out in the country a few miles east of the interstate. It was nice to get out of the city and see some wide open country with horse farms.
I pulled up under a stand of trees where the developer's fifth-wheel trailer was parked next to a picnic table. I didn't see anyone around the trailer, but I got out and started walking around.
About the time I reached the picnic table, a pleasant-looking man wearing a straw cowboy hat pulled up to the fifth-wheeler on a John Deer mule and called out my name.
"You ever driven one of these?" he hollered.
"Yeah, my uncle's, up on his farm in Missouri," I hollered back.
"Jump in, then, and follow me," he said as he hopped onto a four-wheeler.
Next thing I know, we're tearing across a sun-kissed, golden meadow that hadn't been grazed for about three years. The gentle wind rippled across the pasture, like fingers combing through an angel's golden hair.
An uncontrollable "YE-HAWWWW!" leapt from my throat. My face started aching and I realized it was because I was smiling from ear to ear.
We stopped near a 17-acre pond where the developer planned to build a family compound with homes for he and his wife and their children's families. It made me think of Walden's pond.
We drove around to several other spots as he related his family's fascinating history on this land. He fairly drew his vision for the development by waving his hand across the horizon -- a community pond here, a dam there, a custom home across the way.
Eventually we headed back to the trees around the fifth-wheeler. It was the only time I've been able to interview people while sitting under the trees, watching homeowners fishing while the photographer took photos. I talked to the people who had already built their homes here about the school system, easy highway access and the amenities they enjoyed. I listened as long as they wanted to tell me about the wild deer and turkeys that made their homes here, too.
There came a time when the photographer's cell phone rang with another assignment. I finally realized I was sunburned from the day's work and felt the grit of the dust of being out in the country. We'd been there for quite a while and it was time to go, much to my regret. I had truly enjoyed the day racing across open fields, sitting under the trees and hanging out at good fishing holes. I learned much about the developer's panache for finding niche business markets. The man could make money digging up dirt -- and did -- among other ventures.
I drove back down the country roads until I reached the casino at the interstate. I stopped there to wash my face, brush my hair and get a bottle of cold water. When I saw the smile still on my face, I knew my prayers that morning had been answered in ways I could not expect a few hours earlier.
"You have not, because you ask not," I heard again.
If only I'd known He'd answer my prayers for joy by sending me on a day of four-wheeling....