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August 28, 2003
The train emerged from the tunnel and chugged into the meadowlands. It was too dark to see the marsh grasses and flowers in which I delight -- just darkness, and a few distant lights from the city.

I knew that all the children -- adults and teens -- were having dinner together at Mei Lin, the restaurant where my kids learned to love Chinese food. And that Q, who doesn't like it, would be dining in solitary splendor at home. Maybe the timing would be right -- maybe my train's arrival would coincide with the end of their dinner, and they could pick me up at the station. I dialed cell phone after cell phone, but got only recorded messages. Well, we'll see, I said to myself as the train neared Metuchen. Maybe one of them thought to pick up her voice mail.

One of them did. There was Anna, searching the parking lot for me, and there was Robert waiting in the car. Anna hopped in the back seat, indicating that I should take the front seat she had just vacated. I demurred, but she insisted, and off we went.

There was a time when she and her sister almost came to blows over who would sit in front. I had to remember who had sat in front last time, so we could alternate, but somehow that never seemed to avert the fight. I think it was a reflex.

Lots of things recede in importance as you grow older. Sitting in the front seat. Being first. Being popular. Being like other people. Having the latest thing in clothing. Such things are huge for young people. We grow out of them. Adults who don't grow out of them seem immature, like old teenagers.

"One thing is needful," Jesus told Martha, who was very concerned that everything be just so. It turns out that all the hardware we struggle to obtain and maintain isn't what is needful, that what we really need is within us, and has been all the time. Focus on that, and you will have what you need. The rest will take are of itself.

Does that mean you'll quit your job and pray all day instead? That you won't do housework or cook? That you will no longer miss having a special someone in your life? Probably not. You'll still be a human being. But it means you won't become your job, or your house. You won't become your loneliness, so there's nothing to you but that. Things won't take you over in the same way. Not if God has you by the hand first.
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