While slicing my kayak paddle through the waters of Lake Champlain this weekend, I had a personal sense of smallness. This enormous lake, extending far below and for miles north and south of my position, was once an inland sea and the remains of that time are embedded all about.
To the West loomed the Adirondack mountains, steady and unmoving in their layered mass. To the East ran the Green Mountains of Vermont, the craggy nose of Mount Mansfield jutting out of the steady ridge line.
Everywhere I looked I found something large, old, and intimidating.
This one little life bobbing in the wind and waves seemed so tiny and insignificant in the presence of these giants who have been around for thousands of years and are planning to stick it out long after I’m gone. It was a humbling moment that sent me crawling to God, fessing up for every time I’ve ever thought more of myself than warranted.
Though I may lead a good life and enjoy my sojourn here on earth, those deep waters and endless mountains hint at an eternity beyond the shores of my mind. I’m just a blip on the radar. Racked with my own insecurity, I called out to God.
And then I began thinking about Orange Crush soda. I don’t know when soda seeped into my holy moment, but on the return trip to our camp site along the lake, I gradually decided that an orange soda was really all I wanted from life.
I suppose the holy moment fizzled and then went flat.
It was a simple matter to procure this soda. A vending machine taunted me next to the camps bathrooms. Easy enough: bring change, buy soda, drink, and move on with life. But these small things we crave have a way of turning on us.
With one dollar and ten cents in hand, I approached the soda machine only to realize that the sodas sold at an inflated $1.50 for a 20 oz. bottle. I’m not one to pass judgement on the State Park Service of Vermont. I’d probably price gouge soda-thirsty campers who didn’t plan ahead if put in the same place.
I walked across the camp to our car, slipped out a dollar, and returned. This time I found that the dollar feeder didn’t work: a bad sign. In frustration I returned to the car to scoop any and all change to make up the $1.50. I had just enough.
With a heart-wrenching thunk the coins dropped into the change slot. The soda machine was out of order. I should have known. In my desperation I checked with the camp volunteer who shared her knowledge of a famed soda machine by the swimming pool–the pool that happens to be “broken,” but we’ll not elaborate on that.
Sensing the urgency of my quest, I revved up the car and shot over to the pavilion for my orange soda. A flashing red light on the soda machine hinted that all was well. No doubt the machine was fully operational, but sadly lacking in the orange soda option. Undeterred, I put up the stiff upper lip and punched the root beer button.
Sitting down in my chair by the lake, I sipped at the root beer that obviously didn’t taste as good as it should have. But then I looked up at the mountains and the lake and I heard a little voice say, “Now where we?”