Just driving

March 1, 2008

Yesterday the kids and I were getting a bit stir crazy, so I packed everyone into the car to go for a drive. I do that every now and then just to get us out of the house and have a moment to clear my mind. As I drove, I restlessly flipped around the radio but couldn’t find any talk shows or music that felt right. Finally, I looked down to see my favorite CD of the Rosary, and knew that that was exactly what I was meant to listen to.

I don’t know whether it was the simple beauty of the violins in the background, or Fr. Groeschel’s soothing voice, or just the fact that the children were calm and comfortable in their car seats, but as soon as the CD began to play I felt more relaxed than I had all week. And as I drove up and down neighborhood streets, saying the Rosary along with the CD, meditating on each of the mysteries of Christ’s life, I began to feel overwhelmed with joy. The act of continuously repeating the simple Hail Mary prayer occupied the frantic, analytical part of my mind, freeing my soul to just wander and experience and feel. For once I was actually consumed with some small fraction of the profound awe and wonder that one should feel when contemplating the truths of Christianity: I felt indescribable appreciation for having any kind of contact with the Creator of the universe, for his death on our behalf, for the opportunity for our eternal souls to rest in the place of perfect joy and goodness, for the fact that God loves our children and our friends and family even more than we do.

The only fitting term to describe how I felt would be “spiritual ecstasy.” Yet the irony was not lost on me that I was doing one of the most mundane things a person could possibly do: just driving a beat up old minivan around the empty streets of suburbia. What could be more boring, more lame? And yet, an act that to the outside world would seem to be the height of banality, led to the kind of thrilling joy that humans spend their whole lives searching for.

I think that that moment was a perfect encapsulation of the magnificence of Christian life: for the Christian, there is never an excuse for boredom or mundanity, because more excitement and wonder and beauty than we could possibly comprehend are always right there in front of us, accessible by nothing more than prayerful consideration of the truths of our faith. Once you’ve discovered God, the heights of human experience are no longer reserved for fleeting moments upon mountaintops or momentous historical occasions, but can be had any time or any place, even when you’re just driving.


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