I love to get in the car and drive.
I could go for miles, sit for days behind the wheel. Taking in the sights and sounds and smells of little towns and hamlets, big city worries in my rear view mirror. It’s a form of therapy that only cost me as much as the fuel to gas up my car.
I had received an invitation by a preacher in a church 30 miles away from my city home. She wanted me to listen to her preach the Gospel for Palm Sunday. She had discovered several of my essays and felt a particular connection with a few of my pieces. She asked would I give her permission to use various passages in the context of her homily? Her lenten message and prelude to the most holiest of weeks in the catholic faith, the Triuudium, the week before Easter. She felt my words would connect with her congregation.
I was thrilled beyond words that she wanted to quote me. I was honored and jumped at the chance to drive out to her little country church, thirty miles from my safe haven and from the people I knew. It combined two of my favorite things to do. The aforementioned driving and another hobby of sorts. Checking out other churches and faiths other than my own.
I look at other faiths from time to time just out of curiosity. It’s not a time for comparison or one upmanship or to see which faith is “better.” I view it, rather, as a new way to visit with God.
The other part of the fun is checking out other catholic churches purely for architectural and aesthetic reasons. I like to see how other communities “do it”, as opposed to my own continuity. Again, not to compare, but to enjoy. I like to look at the various icons that particular community has chosen for worship and how they have adorned the altar, positioned the statues.
Someone used to tell me I could smell a Catholic Church ten miles away. They were amazed I could find these little sanctuaries set far back or in out of the way places, apart from main streets or highways. If they knew what my “secret” was, they would feel foolish indeed.
It’s simple. Churches usually have a giant cross erected atop the highest steeple of the building. They were put there for a reason; for the faithful to be able to find it. All one needs to do is look to the horizon and you will see it. It will call to you and lead you towards it.
After filling the car up with gas, checking the road map and filling my thermos with coffee, I drove off to the highway to begin my trek. It was a beautiful, sunny, Spring morning, the first after a long, dark winter. It was 9:00 a.m. and the mass I wanted to attend didn’t start until 11:30 a.m. Plenty of time to get lost in the journey and take in the aura of another place, where I envisioned time would be slower, roadways kinder, and space expansive.
I didn’t know what to expect, unaware of what I would find.
Little did I know my journey would lead me to a place of peace and great joy.
Little did I know, I was heading home.