Thursday, March 08, 2007

Being Driven

Driving home, or I should say being driven, was always one of my favorite experiences when I was young. Sitting in the backseat, a good hour's drive ahead of us, the radio just loud enough to kindle thought, the raindrops streaking in a drunken race outside my window.... There was nothing to do but be on the road, be carried, be driven. The alphabet game was over, the talk about dinner or the movie died down, and now there was only the whisper of the wheels, a muffled radio, and the slosh of the windshield wipers. The stage was set. My mind turned inward, and the real journey began.

Contemplation is a gift. A sweet gift that is given, but we can facilitate her arrival. We can, in a certain sense, prepare for her coming. Keep a guest room ready, so to speak. That's part of the culture of prayer. It's building that interior room in the heart, and then patiently waiting for Love to call.

Back on the journey home, I remember moments of deep wonder, serendipitous moments when, beyond the rain-spattered window, the horizon would lift her veil for a moment and the sun would kiss the fields and the tree tops, and then the radio would harmonize with a melancholic tune from Jim Croce or the Alan Parsons Project. Suddenly, I was wrapped in the warmth of the Mystery. I was looking out and into a Face Whose Name I did not know. Then softly, mom or dad would whisper-sing, thinking we might be sleeping. They were the music ministry in this liturgy of the road. The clouds over the fields hovered like incense, and then the setting sun would dip down and be buried beneath the trees, like a Sacred Host in reposition. So ended this natural sacramental, building and cultivating in the heart a foundation for the wonders of the Mass, where these hints and shadows would pass into Realities! Into a Real Presence...

Being driven was pure gold. Being carried down those roads with the wide world opening up before me was my first taste of the spiritual life. I learned the most valuable lesson from it: that you must let it be done unto you. You must wait for the gift. Receptivity is the perfect posture of the creature in relation to the Creator. Anything else is a contradiction, and it could be contracepting the Life He is trying to pour into the human heart. We must first receive in order to give! "As the Father has loved me, so I love you. Live on in my love."

I think now more than ever, we need to let down the walls in our hearts and wipe clean the windows of our minds. Lent is this chance to purify the vision. So let's open new roads to the Presence of God that perhaps we've nervously blockaded for fear of Him getting in. Let's look out the windows more often on this ride. Great thoughts can infiltrate when our defenses are down. Don't worry about the road ahead for now; don't strain your eyes or squint at the headlights on the highway. Just take in those fields, watch and learn from their openness to the heavens. So long as we can be open to God, our thoughts can indeed be fertile and multiply. And we can come to know the One Who drives us on, in Whose Love we are forever being driven...
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