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April 1, 2005
Somehow I've never noticed that you have an altimeter on your dashboard, I said to Mary as we made our way to Curves.

Oh, that, she said, laughing. Well, Bill always liked to know how high up we were on our trips out west. He just loved to know things like that. That sounds just like Bill. He was a chemist: loved numbers and meters and gauges.

I looked at the gauge: we were about three feet above sea level. I daydreamed as we drove, though, that we were much higher, that the dashboard altimeter might be for something else altogether: that maybe Mary's car could fly, that she might flip a switch and gun the engine and we would rise straight up, like a helicopter and cruise along over the tops of the trees until we got to Curves, where we would descend and slide into our parking space. Why not? Think of the time saved -- Route 1 can be a bear in the morning.

Things would look different from up there, no question. The roofs of all our houses, the grid of our newer streets, the winding paths of the older 18th century alleys, the high school, its circular brown running track, the kids running back and forth out on its soccer field. We would see the whole town, all at once, but we would also be close to the bulging red buds of trees, so close that I could, and probably would, roll down the window and pull a couple of them off the branches.

I frequently dream that I can fly. Not in a car but on my own, stretching out my arms and taking off. It is glorious: so many limits reduced to nothing as I sail over them. It is quiet up there and I am fast, fast; there is nowhere I cannot go. I am always surprised to awaken and find that it is not so, that I am earthbound.

As we all are. We aren't above things: we're right down there in the midst of them. But once in a while we must imagine the view from above: what does the whole thing look like? Where is my little piece of it taking me? Am I in a blind alley and don't know it, and might not that be why I am unhappy? Where is the way back on a road to somewhere good, somewhere I really want to be?

Stuck? Lift your arms and sail over the top of whatever is in your way. Flip the switch and gun the engine. And then ask God for clarity about how this daydream might take on reasonable flesh. Let's get out of here.
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