February 11, 2011

Be Our Guest / Steve Seitz

We are never alone on the incredible journey we call life

Isn’t it funny how a conversation can sometimes take a turn in an unexpected direction, and the next thing you know you find yourself in deep water?

I had one of those moments with my brother recently. When I discovered that the water was getting deep, I had two options—“turn the boat ashore,” so to speak, or sail on and see what might be over this new horizon we had found together. I chose the latter.

My brother had commented on his encounters with the gentleman that he shaves with every day, and that it seemed to be a bit more difficult every morning to look at that person than it was before.

I must admit that I can relate. There is nothing like a look in the mirror to remind myself that I lost my “spring chicken” card years ago. How did it happen so fast?

The conversation we were having centered on this as well as the rest of our family, and some of the struggles that come along the way on this incredible journey we call life.

When I found myself wandering into “meaning of life and suffering” territory—very deep waters, I’m sure you will agree—I could almost hear the mental alarm bells and see the flashing sign warning me to turn back.

I was surprised to find that in choosing to move ahead, even in our brief conversation, there was peace.

It seems that taking just a few minutes to honestly assess where we are on this journey provides a sense of assurance that, in spite of the momentary crises that come along, all is well.

A friend recently shared with me the peace that he finds “intentionally living in the moment.” I think in this discussion with my brother that I stumbled onto why the moment is the only place where peace can be found.

As I was driving home that day with my wife and sons, the inside of the car was quiet. We were all tired from visiting relatives over the Christmas holiday. So, as we drove along, I had time to think. Bear with me, and see what you think of the following:

Consider that for each of us the journey begins at the moment of conception. Imagine an angel dropping you off at some cosmic bus station.

This part of the journey, for most of us, is tranquil, tucked away in the peace and safety of our mother’s womb.

Then, after roughly nine months, it is time to change buses. Against all of our protests, that blissful leg of the journey ends and the next one begins. Some people get only a very brief time, others a few years, but the rest of us will ride this bus for decades.

We stop frequently along the route, and at these stops are various moments, all of them opportunities to respond to our Creator who is always with us.

Those opportunities are lost when, rather than living in those moments, we busy ourselves either looking at postcards of where we have been or reviewing the travel brochure and vainly attempting to plan the route.

Significant life events represent bus changes along the way, but they are no more than that.

The important stuff is in all those moments—that first day of school, moving the tassel from right to left on graduation day, slipping a ring on the finger of your beloved, standing breathless at the births of your children, and all our triumphs, sorrows and disappointments.

And, just as significant, one day looking in the mirror and acknowledging how long the journey has been.

Then, someday, we all return to that bus stop and—I like to imagine—just like children jumping off the bus to tell their parents all about the day they just had, we run to the welcoming arms of our Savior, who says, “I know, I was there! Didn’t you see me?”

(Steve Seitz is a member of St. Louis de Montfort Parish in Fishers, Ind., in the Lafayette Diocese.)

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