A Tribute to Blue
by John Collings
Blue is my
oldest friend. We have been close for more than 13 years,
and he has been with me through many events that have shaped
my life. He is, in fact, a remembrance of how God has shaped
my life the last 13 years. He is the only one who has
walked with me through those turbulent days of searching to
find meaning in life, through divorce, through loss, through
finding life and love and fulfillment. Walked with me is
really wrong, Blue, drove me through all these events, and
continues to. Now that he is old and scarred with many
memories, people see us together and wonder what I see in
him and why don't I dump him for another who looks better.
If I can be honest with myself, I must admit that he
probably should be put away. Blue is a 1975 Toyota Celica.
He has seen all that his odometer can show and is starting
around again. As much as a thing can be loved, I love him.
I love him because he reminds me of who I am and where I
I can't remember
those first days too well. I know that I found him on the
new car lot in November 1974, and even then it was an
economic decision that made me choose him. I could not
afford the top of the line, and was proud of the polished
blue with the white racing stripe. I always wanted a sports
car. Air conditioning and an eight track tape player were
last minute additions, and neither one worked right or
lasted. I didn't care, I had wheels, and Blue gave me a new
sense of freedom. As I think about it now maybe it was Blue
that caused me to want to roam from my marriage. I remember
dates with my baby. Brooke was only two then, and we would
buy a milkshake with two straws and drive to a quiet place
and park and sit on Blue and watch the sky or listen to the
wind. I began to know love in new ways with Brooke,
sometimes euphoric, sometimes responsible. Something about
that love drove me to search for more, not quiet peaceful
love, but deeply felt emotional love. Blue watched and was
there through it all.
There must have
been much that happened, but Janie came next to teach me and
with her I found new beginnings in that emotional love. Life
was full. I know that I was foolish and gave little
thought to any kind of consequences, but I had tasted
something that was alive, and life was all that mattered.
Honestly, even when I think back to other times, they are
only memories of events. I know nothing before this
discovery of love from Brooke and Janie. My emotions became
alive. Thoughts poured from mind onto paper. That old
eight track tape played songs of Michael Murphy, Seals and
Croft, Jefferson Airplane and Joni Mitchell. I had never
heard music before. Life jumped at me and I wanted more.
Blue took me to Galveston, and Dallas, and Houston and
Colorado. Often as we drove, Blue and the music would take
me to Big Bend or to the Rockies or past the mountains to
more unknown places. And even the common became exotic.
Sometimes freedom is being able to go to a distant place and
choosing to find a nearby grassy meadow. I was free
unfettered independent unrestricted uncontrolled
unencumbered unconstrained liberated emancipated free. But
free means having to choose, to make choices. This was all
so new and came upon me so fast that I could never have
understood. In choosing Janie, I chose to give up Brooke.
I chose divorce and pain and loss. In a way that many will
never understand, I chose innocently and ignorantly and
rightly. The unexpected gift of my choosing was Life. Not
life with a small l, but Life with a Capital L. Even LIFE
in all capital letters. On Blue's second birthday, I was
born with a new LIFE.
Just one month
prior to that birth, I was working at Texas Instruments as a
Manufacturing Supervisor. Working many hours and in much
turmoil which was mostly my own making. After I was
abruptly informed by my supervisor that I would report to
third shift the next evening and should go home and sleep, I
decided to visit a former employer just to say hello. Upon
finding that there was an opening I took it. What a
surprise to find that when I walked out the door of Business
Data Processing, Inc. Blue had already known what was
happening. Only days before I had put new license plates on
him. The letters of the plates were BDP for Business Data
Processing. For me, it was a clear sign from God.
Now as a new
Christian and with a new job, I asked Janie to marry me.
The scripture became alive to me, If any man be in Christ he
is a new creature, the old things are passed away, Behold
all things are become new. I wanted to shout. Behold all
things are new. That became a prayer, and each word needed
its own emphasis and could be said again and again with new
meaning each time. BEHOLD! Behold ALL! Behold all THINGS!
I am NEW! Confusion dissipated.
When Janie and I
married. Blue was painted with white shoe polish. He was as
beautiful as my new wife, and made a clear sign for the
world to see that I loved her. He was as much the Best Man
as the one who stood before the preacher with me. Blue was
the only one who knew where we would spend our first night
together, and as Janie and I flew to Mexico together Blue
continued to speak my love for her in the parking lot of the
Lubbock Airport. As that Texas sun beat down on the shoe
polish covering him, the words became permanently enscribed
in the bright blue paint, and for years after "Just
Married", and "John loves Janie" remained bleached into Blue
as a reminder to me.
Each week we
traveled to Church in Hale Center. Not a long way, only 30
miles, but several times a week and in the solitude, God
came to me time and time again. On longer trips and shorter
ones I would reach for the radio control, and before even
touching it, my hand would fall back. No. I do not want
music now. Touch me Lord, make me know you, speak life to
Time went on.
The air conditioner ceased working. I didn't bother to fix
it. It never truly worked well anyway. The tape player
went out, time for new tires, scratches on the doors, a
large dent from a Semi Truck, many small dents from various
hale storms. A friend wanted to fix the radio antenna and
in doing so disconnected it altogether, no radio. The fan
does not work for the defroster, the headlights go out
without warning, but Blue remains faithful, never requiring
more than an oil change or periodic tune up.
I began saving
for a new car, after all Blue was already seven years old,
there couldn't be too much left in him. But there were
always people needs that took precedence over car needs.
One day the Lord led me to give the car savings to a family
in need. I only asked if He wouldn't give Blue more time
until I could afford one to take his place. Then there was
another family and then another
He is old and
less beautiful now. At least many people tell me that he
is, even several who have received the money that would have
afforded me more modern transportation. It's all right.
They don't know, and don't need to understand.
I admit, I often
go to look over the new cars. I even take Blue with me. He
hasn't shown any jealousy. I know that I could never trade
him in. But one day he will just break down. Last month the
state of Texas sent me a notice to buy new license plates.
They made a law that plates can only be used for 5 years.
It was rather tramatic to remove the ones that Blue had worn
for so long with BDP. I even wondered, maybe
superstitiously, that removing the plates was somehow
prophetic in the same way that they spoke to me 12 years ago
when I first noticed them in front of Business Data
Processing. Well, those plates hang in the garage as a
reminder of what has past, and Blue stands there too, still
faithfully driving across town and back with never a trouble
or a complaint.
It has not been
for me only. Unselfishly he carries anyone in need of
transportation. Blue has carried all kinds of people, but
mostly those in need, for why would anyone stoop to use Old
Blue if they had any means of their own. Sandy tells me
that her friends laugh at her when she drives up to the
school in Blue, and Janie won't even get in, but in love, I
really don't notice his age or scars. Whether helping
sinners or saints, Blue has worked to further God's eternal
purpose, and always without complaint.
Last year Blue
turned 100,000 miles. I was thinking of trading him then.
Instead, I washed and perfumed him, bought new seat covers
and steering wheel cover, changed the oil. He became new
again, and I remembered, Behold all things are become new.
It never ceases. The new is not new only at the beginning,
all is renewing into newness, there is never again old in
the same way.
Last week as Blue
was parked outside a friends office, someone rammed the
door. I really wasn't too upset even though the door
doesn't open well, and makes a terrible creak when it
opens. He left his card. When I found him we discussed the
accident and the man said that the panel was badly rusted
and should be greatly depreciated. I looked and it was
badly rusted, but couldn't help but think that Blue should
be greatly appreciated, not depreciated. That is why I had
to write this testimonial. I know there is much that I have
left out, but through Blue I have learned that "All things
work together for good, for those who love God, and who are
called according to His purpose." I know that Blue is just a
thing. That I have supplied him with characteristics that
could never be his, and that I have spoken teleologically
for him, but again I say Blue has been used of God as a mile
stone or a marker to remind me where I have come from and
who I am. His simple plainness and dull shine are the way
that I must look to many, but also like me Blue has gone
many miles and our journey has been an experience of
discovering grace. Now we take one mile at a time, not being
anxious for the end of the journey, but enjoying each step
along the way knowing that it could be the last one. The
first could have been the last also, we just didn't have the
experience to understand that then.
Father, and thank You for your provision and care of me
through such a foolish thing as an old blue automobile and
through such a wonder as my Lord Jesus Christ.
I give You Thanks.