If we started at about age 16, the thing we do next most in life after eating, sleeping, and working is probably driving. In a lifetime, if we were to total it up, we spend a staggering amount of time behind the wheel. A hundred years ago that would not have been true. But today it seems we’ve always got to get to someplace else, and we are willing to invest time behind the wheel to do it.
It is interesting that we can think of all kinds of distractions to our spiritual life, but driving is seldom one of them. In former times people were happy to have some land and settle on it for life with only an occasional trip “into town.” Monastic men and women stay in one place for life seldom concerned with being anywhere else.
There is no real reason why we can’t pray and reflect while we’re driving. No reason why we can’t observe things all around the roads we travel that reflect You. However, the fact is that we’re usually on “automatic pilot” when we’re driving. I can call to mind countless trips where I remember leaving and I remember arriving, but I don’t remember anything in between. There are periods in life like this too, where we’re on “automatic pilot” unaware of what goes on around us or what we’re doing. Even in the other areas of “most time spent” – like eating and working – we’re often not aware of what we’re doing.
It strikes me that times like this are wasted, and I’m irritated by wasted time. It further strikes me that this is an appropriate metaphor for life. There are many trivial destinations, but there is always that one major destination lurking in our thoughts. We invest much thoughtless time in getting to those minor destinations, but how much do we invest in getting to that major one? And, are all these minor ones somehow linked to the major one? The trick is to overcome our conditioning to ignore the mundane; for in the mundane we meet You in new places and in new ways. It takes focus and effort not to waste time, but it can be done.