Running out of Fuel

When I first got my drivers license 27 years ago and was driving my father’s car it would perturb him to no end if I brought the vehicle back with less than half a tank of gas. You see, he never really let his car get much below half a tank before he would fill it up. He could never understand why I would let my own cars get so low on gas. On the many trips he and Mom made to Ontario, right at about this time of year, he will be traveling with me in the car and always ask the obvious question, “Why do you let your car get so low on gas? There’s no need of it! You pass all these has stations every day and you still wait.” He would shake his head upward, lips pursed, and eyes closed as if to say – it’s no use telling you anything.
He knew me!

Dad was really on my mind today. I had pulled over to return an email on my cell phone when I noticed that the fuel light on my car was not just low, but was flashing. Then I remembered that it originally showed low fuel three days ago. O dear!!! I was about three quarters of a kilometer from the Shell station. Thankfully it was downhill. As I pulled back on the road the car actually sputtered but then gained some momentum as the car tipped downward. I pulled into the Shell station and literally sputtered up to the pumps on fumes and stalled out!!!!!!! Close call. The image of my father shaking his head, resigned to the fact that I do not listen, came right before me.

Coasted in on Fumes
Coasted in on Fumes

Not long after I first moved to London and purchased this car, I actually ran flat out of gas and had to be rescued. That happened to me once in Windsor as well. One would think that I might learn from my mistakes. One would be so wrong. There is no need for me to run out of gas. As dad told me all those years ago, I pass gas stations all day long in this city. Bad habits are hard to break sometimes. But I commit there and now to not let my car get that low again.

Having fueled the car up and having avoided the embarrassment of being out of gas again, I began to think about the other ways that we run out of fuel. How often do we move through our days mindlessly, knowing full well that we are getting pretty low and our energy is at a place where it will be hard to imagine how we could keep going? We fail to take the necessary steps to make sure we have the energy to continue. Or how often do we spiritually feel that our tank is getting pretty low? There are times I am sure that most of us feel as though we may be drifting further away from God and not closer.

A couple of weeks ago I became aware of the fact that I was not taking the time to do things that replenish me. I cannot tell you how I got there – but I can tell you that I was feeling as though I was not as in touch with my Creator as I normally like to be. As I engaged in my Lenten reflections it became painfully obvious that in the busy day to day grind of life, that for a number of weeks I was not taking the time to do the things that were spiritually life-giving for me. As much as I needed to get to Shell today for petrol I needed to name what fuels me – and go get it. I love to read, and two weeks ago I came to the stark realization that I had gone a couple of months without reading a book at all. I also love to write. My writing had all but stopped. Again I could see my father saying to me why do you let your tank get so low? Just as I sputtered to the tanks today, I sputtered to the book store a couple of weeks ago and have been reading and writing in an attempt to keep things moving?

Dad was right! We have no need to let our tank get so very low. The car and our spirits need ‘regular’ attention in order to keep running smoothly.

I would be interested in hearing what fuels you. What do you need, to keep you moving forward. If you feel comfortable, comment on this blog and share the things that are life-giving for you. When you feel a little low, or lacking energy spiritually or otherwise, where do you go to fill up as it were?

16 thoughts on “Running out of Fuel

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  1. When I’ve reached my lowest point and can’t find the energy to go on, water is my source of regeneration. A walk along the beach is my first choice, but being ‘land-bound’ as it were, I usually have to settle for the Thames River in Springbank Park (although recently found a pond in Komoka that is a beautiful escape!). I just sit and stare at the water and sort through all the thoughts racing through my head. I rarely solve any problems, but I usually leave feeling a little more prepared to deal with whatever challenges I’m currently facing. The ‘conversations’ by the water are usually the most productive ones I have when it comes to dealing with “life”.

  2. From Mrs. Canon Kevin…as always, you have a wonderful way of describing things that make them come right to life, and your father was here right before my eyes for a moment. I could also hear his voice. I don’t think it would be a far guess for many to know that I am “fuelled up” by seeing beauty/goodness in others and by photography…somehow, it is as if I see glimpses of God, and I just want to capture that beauty

    1. From Mr Canon Kevin to Mrs – – You have a special eye for photography – I suspect that is because you see the best in other people and in God’s created order!

  3. Kevin, you told me I couldn’t do it all many years ago. Now I really can’t.
    In stead I meditate, I create beautiful things, I admire my grandbabies ( even though I can’t care for them any more) in short I take care of me. And I allow others to care for me when needed. that really goes against the grain.
    It’s not easy breaking old habits. But sometimes the dividends are surprising.
    I contemplate your posts and appreciate your efforts.

    1. Hi there Nancy
      Did I say that — I would say I need to heed that advice myself. It is not easy to allow others to care for us. It is a challenge – but when we accept another’s care it is a beautiful thing. Thank you for sharing this and for your kind words.

  4. Kevin – this blog made me think of my Dad and Mum – Dad was exactly like you – always letting the car run low on gas and Mum always yelling at him to stop for gas! Now I am on my way to choir because music is one of the
    things that revives me followed by church – need I say more? Have an
    extra blessed Sunday!

    1. Hi Chris,

      Thank you for responding. Thank you for sharing about your Mum and Dad.

      I know how much you love music, and how much you love the church. Glad to know that it continues to inspire you and fuel you up.
      You belong to a great church choir with a great community.
      Much to be grateful for indeed.


  5. To me it somehow all goes back to the birds and the lilies. In others words, what is needed to refuel oneself is… nothing. Not a thing is needed. This is not some Zen koan ( or maybe it is:) but it is what all the great masters tell us and it is a bit of a mystery and maybe that is why I trust it. If I forget, I pick up one of my favourites, Rumi, Jesus, the Psalms, The Beatles or I listen to the lilty Irish mesmery of the late John O’Donahue and all is well again. There was no reason to think I’d run out of fuel because it is all there, all I need to do is remember.
    Before you all think I live in some state of continuous bliss, be assured that many a times have I crawled into a gas station on pure vapors. Worried that I will run out…

    1. How can one go wrong…. Although I must confess that the restorative nature of that would be challenged for me if I was listening to “Cross Country Checkup”

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