On the way to choir practice last Wednesday, I heard a tick-tick-tick in the car engine, slower when idling and faster with acceleration. I stopped in a parking lot, grabbed my phone, and searched the internet for “engine knocking.” The possibilities were dire. I babied the car and prayed we’d make it home.

garageOct2019First thing Thursday morning, I called our local auto repair shop and asked if they had time to check our car. Yes, but they might need it over the weekend. Keith and I drove both vehicles down the mountain, left the car, and drove home in the truck.

The shop left a message later that afternoon: our car was ready, and they’d fixed the problem. By the time I listened to the message, the shop had closed. So, we picked the car up first thing Friday morning.

“What was wrong,” I asked while paying the bill.

“Your car was low on oil,” the shop manager said. “That make and model year has an oil-consumption problem. And the check oil light doesn’t come on to warn you.”

What came out of my mouth was “thank you,” but in my head, I thought, “If this defect is so notorious, why didn’t someone tell me?”

Truth is, someone did.


My sisters and I grew up in the country, miles from city services, and my parents on farms in northern Maine. Our father taught us to drive as soon as we were able—age ten for me—and showed us how to maintain a vehicle. I’d known not to ignore the tick-tick-ticking but had gotten lazy about doing maintenance myself. I figured regular oil changes at recommended intervals would suffice.

Now that I knew about the defect, would I pay better attention and alter my behavior? It’s a worthy question since we know a lot about how to take care of ourselves and others—spiritually, physically, intellectually, socially, emotionally—yet ignore good information. Or worse, we reject wisdom and behave contrary to it.

I am no different.


This weekend, I searched the internet for specific information about our car’s maintenance issues. If it develops this problem—and not all do—it will consume about one quart of oil per 1,000 miles instead of the usual 1,500 miles. Given the 50% increased consumption, I’ll purchase the recommended oil this week, review my car maintenance skills, and put the car on a regular oil-check schedule.

Will I keep to that schedule? More importantly, will I cultivate gratitude for information instead of embracing “why didn’t someone tell me” ignorance and blame? No, not always, but it’s a worthy goal.


SassafrasOct2019Post script: This morning, after working in the yard and taking this picture, I checked our truck’s maintenance issues and oil change schedule.

Someone told me to do that.

And I paid attention.


  1. Gary Fultz

    Going out to check my oil level on the truck now…somebody told me. Thanks Carole
    A truth most of us know in our heads in every area of life. For me it makes tomorrows to do list.

  2. ekurie

    My dad taught me how to change oil/filter before the computerization of cars. Now I rely on the 15% indicator. But this raises the obvious question: just because the car manual assures me that light means I have 15% oil life, am I sure it does??

    • Carole Duff

      Good question. The shop manager said we were down 4 1/2 quarts—out of 5—and no oil light. A quick internet search for your car’s make and model should give you the information you need.

  3. Nikaos Coaching

    Love these real life parables, powerful message thank you!

  4. bigskybuckeye

    Carole, thank you for sharing a great tip. We sometimes rely on technology to monitor our vehicle’s health that we forget we can check many small details ourselves.

  5. seekingdivineperspective.com

    LOL, yes, I’ve seen cases where someone receives bad news and demands indignantly “WHY was I not told!?” and wondered “Why were you not paying more attention?” (Particularly ironic when that person is Yours Truly…)

    • Carole Duff

      Oh yes, my default is blame… someone else.

      P.S. Checked the oil last weekend. And I actually read the owners manual, in which the manufacturer recommends checking oil every other fill-up. How many times do I need to be told? HA!

  6. Sue Love

    This has so many parallels to our spiritual lives, doesn’t it? We need to pay attention, don’t we? We need to do the regular maintenance required by God. We need to follow directions. We need to not be neglectful or to get lazy. Amen! Thank you for this reminder!! Very good!!

    • Carole Duff

      Thank you for your comment, Sue. Spiritual journeys have many layers, even with small things. Maybe especially in life’s small things.

      • Sue Love

        That is why it is a journey. Yes!


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