Lancaster is a city built on a grid, north/south and east/west streets, with most of the central main routes running in one direction or the other. You need to know where you’re going and have an overall perspective to drive to any particular spot because the one-way streets can catch you up and make you run in squares (similar to circles). I’ve noticed that when I walk through the city I tend to look in the direction from which the traffic is coming. The other day I discovered I was missing out on life because of that increasing habit.
At one corner, for no reason at all, I looked the other way. I had already checked the traffic and instead of just coming back to look forward I kept turning my head up the empty street. There was a steeple and a couple of shop owners cleaning the sidewalk outside their places and the people moving across the street and the sky and the pink edged clouds catching the arriving light of early morning. I stopped. I took it in. I relaxed and then turned and walked on carrying the image in me.Dawn
Ingrained habits, bodily-muscled memory, like Dan Snyder preached about last Sunday, create the liturgy of days and life. Dan’s admonition to take note of the liturgy we’re called into and to make sure we want to follow that pattern is one I continue to walk with this week. I want to make sure I look that other way as well.
We so want rigid routes, one-ways that tell us the right way to go so that we don’t have to think about it. Like riding a bicycle, we want to get out of awkward stage so that we don’t have to think. But thinking is this gift of God. We use liturgy to help guide our thinking, but when liturgy uses us we stop thinking and just do it until we come to the other end. That’s kind of like the experience of driving home from work and suddenly realizing we’ve arrived. How did we do that? We don’t really remember anything we passed. We’re so immersed in the habit, the liturgy, that we’ve forgotten to experience it.
Some of the roads that lead out of the one-ways of downtown have names. These are Pennsylvania roads which do not move in a direction but to somewhere. Columbia Avenue goes to Columbia, PA. Marietta Avenue goes to Marietta, PA. If you get on Morgantown Road, you can take it right into Morgantown. I’ve always liked that about Pennsylvania. That’s part of the reason I follow Jesus.
I follow Jesus as “the way” because I know it brings me to God. It doesn’t do that some day. It does it today, every day. I follow the way because it goes not more deeply into myself, not toward rewards, not toward right understanding, but because it goes somewhere, to someone. What’s interesting to me is that it isn’t a way I can do without thinking. I have to experience it. I have to pay attention because the way will bend this way or that. It doesn’t go north, south, east or west only. It could take any of those directions simply because it gets me to that one to whom I’m headed. So I have to follow the way and obey its movement rather than my own inclination to stop thinking.
Following the way makes me look other ways. It makes me pay attention to the life that is actually going on in another direction. It doesn’t allow me to become complacent, but constantly challenges me with newness.
So, I hear a voice calling from the wildness, the voice calling me out from the one-ways, the patterned directions. It tells me to turn around, to see, to hear and to get into living a real life. It calls me into Advent, this time of anticipation, of moving my sluggish self out onto a road that moves toward the dawning light.Dawn1

One response to “Unseen

  1. love how you always challenge us to look on the road less traveled!

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