At the outset, it is important that I state that my wife and I are now retired and we have the opportunity to travel in a more leisurely manner than racing to the airport, trying to make connections, and getting upset with the TSA personnel. Most often, if the trip is only going to be less than 1,200 miles, we will drive and since we live in East TN, that gives us a reach from New England to Florida, with virtually everything east of the Mississippi river within our grasp without seeing an airport.
Each day that we are on the road, we begin the morning with the rosary and the Divine Mercy chaplet. That seems to get us off on the right foot in terms of prayer and meditation.
Roadways May Lead to Meditation
By being away from the various cities, it is easy to get into a meditative state and give thanks to God for the beauty of the world, the sky, trees, etc. Here, the roadways seem to be simply laid on top of the ground and are the ribbons of highways of which writers and poets have written many works.
The car will settle into its most comfortable speed which is a couple of MPH over or below the posted speed limit. As the car drifts along, it is still mandatory that attention be paid to the roadway, other drivers, weather conditions and the myriad other details which distance driving entails. However, there is a great opportunity to see the world around us, rather than just looking at it.
As an example, as we are travelling by, we may see a derelict or abandoned house which had once been a loving home. For the three or four seconds that the house is in view, it can relate its entire history about the young family that built it, filled it with children and love and then the old couple who lived in diminishing rooms of it trying to stay ahead of heating bills while finishing their days.
The house serves as a stepping off point for us to consider our families and thank God for them, their successes, their stresses and their constancy. This simple ‘Thank you’ for the family itself becomes a reminder of a quote from Meister Ekhart, “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”.
Passing by an old country church on a hill, becomes a reminder to say thank you to God for the birth, passion, death and resurrection of His Son Christ Jesus. This then leads to many minutes of prayer and meditation contemplating all that this Unemployed Carpenter did for each of us.
Unexpected Rewards of a Lunch Stop
On a recent trip from East Tn to the panhandle of Florida, we stopped by a Mom & Pop café for lunch. We said our prayers and got ready for the meal to be served. The table next to us had been occupied by a very young girl of probably three or four, her mother and grandparents. The young girl asked to say grace. When we finished our meal, we stopped by their table and complimented the girl on how well she said the prayers, and the mother for teaching the child how to pray.
We live, in essence, at the buckle of the bible belt, so it should be no issue for people to say grace before meals, but, it is so rewarding to experience it when it happens.
Back on the road, and traveling through s small town square where Old Glory was flying at full staff and proud. This was, in turn, followed by a prayer of gratitude for all of the thousands of men and women who dies to keep this land free. From this thought, it was a very brief hop to a bit of data I heard recently…
It seems that in all of the wars fought by the USA, we have lost approximately 1.5 million people in total, however, in the past few decades, we have killed over 50 million children. A prayer for the millions of souls follows.
Pray Without Ceasing, Really
The reader may be tempted to say, “Well, it’s OK for you being retired and all to take hours to drive anywhere you wish, but, I have to work, and pick up the kids, and and and…”
While that is true, how about if on the way into work, at a traffic light, you say a quick Hail Mary, or while waiting for the car in front of you to make a left turn you thank God for being aware of being there.
Slowly, this new action may well become a habit, and you may find yourself praying more in any given day than you had previously ever considered. Do we need to spend the day with our heads down, our eyes closed, and in meditation in darkened rooms? No, to pray without ceasing simply means being aware of God, His Son and the Spirit which lies between them.
When things go right, look up and say “Thank you”. When things go badly, look up and say, “Thank you, help me learn from this.”