By Judith Costello
My son and I recently drove from New Mexico to Indiana to bring him to college at the University of Notre Dame. After we navigated through the zooming traffic and confusing signs in Oklahoma City, we decided to avoid all big cities. This meant adding about 120 miles to our 1,500-mile journey. At one point, our GPS put us on a tiny gravel road next to several miles of cornfields. Peter said, “No one else has ever driven this way to Notre Dame before. And no one else ever will.” That got me thinking about life!
Each of our paths in life is unique. Hopefully, not because “I did it my way” but because God made us unique and he guides us along a special route. No one else can really say, “It can only be done this way.” All the maps on our journey tried to take us through St. Louis and Chicago. Do we really have to be in six lanes of traffic trying to get to the far lane? No. It’s the worldliness of life that is filled with such pressure to conform.
My daughter Brigit experienced the judgments of others when she announced she wanted to finish up her high school experience early online without doing all the senior year parties and classes. She was told, “You’ll regret it.” But her decision was crafted from her readiness to move on. She’s being guided differently than what is “normal;” if she listens to the voice of the Holy Spirit, she will find the road going upward.
It’s a good thing to avoid the fast pace of the modern world. When we speed through life we miss all the pretty things along the way. We can opt out of the tension and stress that comes in the six-lane zones.
Brigit wrote a story when she was 9 about defying her parents in order to enter a pumpkin carving contest that had a tempting prize. In the story she wins the contest and goes off to Hollywood to take a big-paying job, only to find that she was replaced by someone else within a year and was suddenly all alone. Her story ended with her back in bed, glad that she didn’t really do what she had thought about.
On our unique journey to Notre Dame, I read a book out loud. While Peter observed the outer world and made plans to stop and smell the roses, I fed our inner worlds with words of wisdom. It reminded me that we need both attention to what is out there and attention to what’s inside us.
We read C.S. Lewis’ “The Great Divorce” which tells a story of residents in hell on a bus ride to heaven. The passengers meet angels and guides who show them what they are missing. But sadly, the passengers choose hell because it is familiar. The message is that how we live our lives on earth determines what we are ready for on the other side.
As we were driving on those small state roads in August, Peter and I trusted in the GPS. Our lives should be guided by GPS — God’s Path through Spirit. Jesus sent this system from heaven after his ascension. Sometimes this guidance system leaves us in the dark. What’s ahead? Really, do we have to go over this rough gravel road now? Oh dear, I’m not sure where I am.
St. Teresa faithfully followed this GPS even though the road was dark and filled with potholes for years of her life. I think we can trust that she made the right choice in following the GPS from heaven. We are called to do the same.
May your unique road be blessed! And don’t forget to bypass the zoom-zoom route.
(Judith Costello, OCDS, is a freelance writer who grew up in Davenport and lives in rural New Mexico. Her website is www.thedailychristian.com.)