Persons, place and things: ‘RIGHT LANE CLOSED’


By Barb Arland-Fye

Heading out of the office in central Davenport for a Monday afternoon meeting in northeast Bettendorf, I paused to consider the best route with the fewest road construction projects. Getting the green light through the first few miles of the route I chose provided hope.


The intersections that followed, which seemed synchronized for a red light at my approach, sent hope to the basement. The wailing sound of a siren amidst the traffic jam evoked feelings of dread and frustration, followed immediately by an odd sense of peace. At that moment, I felt compassion for whoever needed the help of emergency responders and remembered that God is in charge, not me.

Arriving on time for the meeting was out of my control … and I calmed down accepting that reality. The homily that Archbishop-elect Thomas Zinkula gave at the Iowa City Catholic Worker Mass three days earlier came to mind. Gratitude, he said, is one of the elements essential to “how we should look at life.” God is the foundation of all of the essential elements, the others being gift, growth and generosity.


Even on one of the most oppressively hot days of this year, with orange triangle signs that read “RIGHT LANE CLOSED” and traffic backed up, God nudged me to think about what makes me grateful. To start with, I am grateful to have good roads on which to travel! I have been in countries where highways abruptly end or streets look like something out of an old western movie.

The unrelenting war in Ukraine came to mind because of the human and capital destruction and the disruption of food shipments to desperately hungry people in impoverished countries. How can I not be grateful to have plentiful food and a safe place in which to live?

How can I not be grateful to be healing so well two months after breaking my pelvis and right pinky in a bicycle accident? Not only am I walking normally, I’m back on my bike!

My career as editor of The Catholic Messenger gives me reason to be grateful. As a child, I dreamed of becoming a writer and have been living out that dream for years. Combining two passions — journalism and the Catholic Church — puts the accent mark after the word “grateful.” My staff and the support of diocesan leaders are two more reasons to be grateful during a challenging year.

I’m also grateful to be part of the small group that meets once a month and whose members overlook the times I’ve been a few minutes late and empathize with my frustration over traffic jams and road construction delays.

Faith and family anchor my gratitude. My husband Steve has raised me up so that I can stand on mountains — literally (Pike’s Peak) and figuratively — and our sons Colin and Patrick fill me with gratitude for motherhood.

St. Teresa of Kolkata, whose canonization I had the privilege of attending in St. Peter’s Square, said, “The best way to show my gratitude is to accept everything, even my problems, with joy.”

Something to think about as I wind my way through traffic jams and “RIGHT LANE CLOSED” signs.

(Contact Editor Barb Arland-Fye at

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