When I went to seminary in Chicago—
I had never seen traffic that heavy—
and drivers so crazy and so aggressive.
Makes Lexington driving seem like
sitting in a recliner on a lazy Sunday afternoon—
drinking some sweet tea—
and thumbing through the Herald-Leader.
Well, a couple of years ago,
I was coming back from a
spiritual direction conference in Chicago.
I chose a time to drive back home
when traffic wouldn’t be so bad—
and I chose the Tri-State Expressway—
it’s out of the city—
it has plenty of lanes.
The toll booths would be
my only aggravation.
So, I’m approaching a toll booth—
and I put my blinker on
so I can start to merge into the “cash only” lane.
Well, no such luck.
Cars just keep zipping by—
not paying any attention to my blinker at all.
I start gripping my steering wheel tighter and tighter
as there’s less and less road for me to get over.
I practically have to come to a complete stop
before I can get just a little room to whip into
the lane I need to be in to pay my toll.
Alright, settle down I tell myself—
I made it—
No big deal—You know these Chicago drivers.
Well, about 10 miles down the road, there’s another toll.
I’m approaching the toll booth—
I put my blinker on so I can start my way over
to the “cash only” lane—
and this guy driving a tan Camry is
right beside me—
traveling in a lane I need to cross to pay the toll.
I speed up so I can get over—
He speeds up.
I slow down so he can pass me
and I can get over—
and he slows down.
This went on for a mile or so—
and now the toll booth is approaching fast.
My hands grip the steering wheel a little tighter—
I’m getting really angry because it sure seems
like the guy’s doing this on purpose—
a bead of sweat breaks out on my forehead.
He just won’t let me in—
I’m looking over at him and he won’t look back.
I’m really mad now—
I have no time—
Again, practically have to make a
complete stop on the Tri-State.
Well, I throw my coins in the basket and
race to find the man driving the tan Camry.
At the minimum—
I’m going to give him the finger.
And as I see him just about a
hundred yards ahead of me—
with me gunning it to catch up with him—
I see my collar staring back at
me in my rear view mirror
Steve, you’re a priest—
You represent “Jesus.”
Well, it’s only by that grace of God—
and the fear that I’d get my tail whipped that
I didn’t force him to the side of the road—
get out of my car and
start pounding on the man’s window.
I’d probably got arrested.
Imagine me trying to explain all of
that to Bishop John—
or even worse—
to Sister Ellen.
I’m sure you know it just as well as I do—
people can be challenging—
especially when they’re behind the wheel of a car.
Our culture is need of civility everywhere—
Especially on the roads.
Did Jesus have anything to say about driving cars?
Probably not, you say.
After all, Jesus walked everywhere he went—
except maybe when He came into
Jerusalem riding on a donkey.
Well, Jesus does gives us instructions on driving—
They’re in today’s Gospel:
and love neighbor.
You know that little driving book that
we all have to study to get our license—
the Kentucky Driver’s Manual—
The book with all the road signs—
and rules on right turns and left turns—
rules on keeping proper space between vehicles—
how to parallel park.
Well, all of the rules and instructions in
that book can be boiled down to two—
Love God and love neighbor.
Actually, all good laws, whether civil or religious can
be summarized with loving God and loving neighbor.
When we love our neighbor we are loving God!!!
I’ve wanted to talk about
driving for a while—
it’s a major part of most of our lives—
A common activity.
And it’s crazy out there—
a lot’s at stake—
life and limb and livelihood are at stake.
My friends tell me that
I’m not a very good driver—
But I’m going to change that.
What if—what if we made our driving about
loving God and loving neighbor.
And let Jesus be our guide in this!!!
One thing, watch out for bicycles—
I was supposed to meet my parents for
lunch yesterday at Red Lobster.
They never showed up—
All I could think about was them being in
an accident in all of that football traffic.
I hoped that someone was watching
out for them in their driving.
Well, they just got lost—
they couldn’t find Red Lobster.
Watch out for our most vulnerable.
“As you do unto the least of my brothers and sisters—
you’ve done unto me.”
Let someone in!!!!
Get off people’s bumpers!!!
If someone’s on our tail,
pull over and let ‘em around.
And get off other people’s tails—
It’s no big deal.
Put others before ourselves.
Jesus says, if we just love those whose
who love us, what good is that—
Let’s be different—
Do unto others as we would have them do unto us.
And Don’t retaliate!!!
like I wanted to do in Chicago.
Let it go!!!
Love your enemies—
Never return evil for evil—
Always return evil with good—
Pray for them—
That’s what the master says!!!
And Slow down—
Plan a better—
Leave a little earlier.
Who can add one minute to
our lives with worrying and fretting.
Don’t text or look at our phones—
Enjoy God’s creation—
pray for who and what we see.
Wave every now and then—
Be nice—be careful—be Jesus.
St. Therese Of Lisieux said that when she just
surrendered to treating people the way Jesus asked—
when she quit fighting it—
it became easy.
When she surrendered—
When she just decided to do it—
She said His burden became light and
his yoke became easy.
Just surrender to it.
Be nice—Be careful—Be Jesus.
You know, there’s even more at stake
In our driving than life and limb and livelihood—
there’s also our soul.
In Oscar Wilde’s novel The Picture of Dorian Gray,
Dorian is an exceptionally handsome young man,
and he has his portrait painted.
It so captures his beauty that he begins to
weep because he knows that as he grows older,
his portrait will remind him of his fading youth.
Dorian utters a mad wish that he
could stay young forever and
that his portrait would age and
become a portrait of his soul.
Well, his wish becomes a reality.
One night, several weeks after making his wish,
Dorian is cruel to his finance—
and breaks off their engagement.
After being so cruel,
when he arrives at home,
he notices a slight alteration on his portrait.
There was a touch of cruelty in his mouth and
that cruelty had ruined his whole face—
it had ruined his portrait.
He realized that a touch of cruelty had altered his soul.
As one Christian author noted—
Every experience leaves some imprint on our soul!!!
every encounter in the created order
deposits a residue on our soul that is recorded
in memory and embedded in our physiology. (Foley, The Ascent: Reflections, 46-7)
What we do—
How we act—
What we say—
Becomes who we are—
It helps paints our eternal portrait.
So, there’s a lot of stake in how we drive—
and our soul.
So be nice—be careful—Be Jesus.
And love neighbor.
Holy Spirit 11/03-04/18