Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Exit 432

Dear Future Pastor,

The last two weeks have left me with very little reserve to draw upon. My 20th century guilt was trying to convince me that it had to do with my lack of discipline or being a part of the Church As We Know It, but I knew better. I now refer to it as reality.

All this brought me to my day off work wondering what I should do about it. I had a thought to visit the Holy Family Chapel along Interstate 80 between here and Omaha. Perched upon a hill overlooking the Platte Valley, this mysterious looking edifice always invokes in me the question, “What is that thing?”

I made my way northeast along the ribbon of highway and found the exit leading down the dirt road to the quaint little sanctuary. My lack of knowledge of this place produced a little anxiety, as does anything dedicated as holy. I’m sure some passersby might have seen it as a glorified Stuckey’s to be checked off their cross country travelogue, but for me it felt somewhat ominous.

This is what I like about the Catholics. They have tried to keep the Sacred at arms length, treat it with reverence and maintain that division between it and all that is secular. They erect sanctuaries and cathedrals and monasteries and recite liturgies as a means to remind them that God is Other and I am Ordinary. The evangelicals, on the other hand, tear the veil, blunder in, and make everything familiar.

Regardless of position, all of us have to admit our tendency to slump into a complacent course. The liturgist must overcome it as well as the non-traditionalist. It is hard to keep fresh when it comes to spiritual direction.

Which is why I think my visit to Holy Family Chapel was meaningful. It was different. It was off the beaten path. It caught me off guard, and I needed that.

As I drove away, my spirit felt relieved and like a reflex I considered coming back again soon. But Something suggested otherwise. As I mulled over the rationale, I concluded that my need was not met by my visit to the Chapel itself, but mostly out of an age old Truth.

If you seek Me, you will find Me.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Hope and Change

As I’ve said before, I try to keep my political opinions out of this blog, as I know how polarizing politics can be. It’s not that I don’t hold firm beliefs, it’s just that my thoughts about the spiritual life may not ever get heard if I interject what I think about politics.

I will comment on Tuesday’s election in light of an observation I have made before. It is the word; Transcendence.

This time in history reminds us even more of this need.

Why else do we gather in stadiums with 80,000 other sports fans to watch 11 guys try and get a leather ball across a particular line on a grass field?

Why do we wait in line for hours and camp out for tickets for a show to be reminded that I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For?

And why would a kid need off work so he and some buds can drive 10 hours to stand in a sea of humanity in Chicago’s Grant Park on a Tuesday Night in November?


And Barak Obama is helping a generation with this need.

The other major headlines are nothing to rally around. The gravitational pull of the economy, national security, and healthcare concerns are enough for the average citizen to feel the downward pressure of the extra weight. This added burden demands relief, and transcendent moments like Tuesday nights decision provide that liberation.

To transcend is to rise above, to be lifted up and over all that is ordinary and become distinct. And to many, Barak Obama is their means of transcendence.. He has brought a majority of people up and above the current state of mind about this country. He has lifted spirits and attitudes. He has campaigned on two simple words: Hope and Change. The nationwide response to both signals a yearning for transcendence.

To borrow a phrase from film, The Incredibles, if everyone is special, then no one is. In a culture of self-fulfillment, it is not enough to feel good about me. I need to feel great about something greater. I need to rise above, and I need help doing so.

Good luck, President-elect Obama. Lead strong. Lead us well.