“It should be right down this street,” I said to my anxious husband. We were now 10 minutes into our “let’s find a Chick-fil-a” adventure. He let out a heavy sigh to further punctuate his disapproval of our veer off the usual route. When I first announced that the iPhone found a Chick-fil-a about 8 miles north of the interstate, he was reluctant to agree to the idea. While I enjoy getting off the beaten path, he sees these adventures as time-consuming, gas-wasting annoyances that will curtail his chances of beating his previous record drive time from Dallas to New Orleans. I suspect that our differing opinions on the matter have much to do with the fact that he’s from Mars and I’m from Venus. But nevertheless, here was my Martian driving this hungry Venetian to a somewhat healthy fast food experience.
“Where is it?” the annoyed Martian asked as the packed city street started to give way to sparsely populated businesses and homes. We were now approaching 15 minutes of what he considered lost precious time.
“I don’t know! The iPhone says we passed it but I didn’t see a restaurant. We should turn around.” On our second trip down the same street, it became apparent that the Chick-fil-a was just a figment of the iPhone’s imagination. The tension in the air was palpable as we went through the What-A-Burger drive through and then raced back to I-20. Although the Martian knew it wasn’t entirely my fault, our failed adventure further fueled his hesitancy to entertain my wild and crazy ideas that lead us away from the well-traveled interstate.
It was on our way back home from New Orleans that I realized how much I am like him. As I watched the bayou slowly give way to the sugar cane fields, I reflected on just how much of this great country I have seen. My eyes have taken in the beauty of the rolling wheat fields and my ears the music of the roaring ocean. I’ve walked the streets laid by our founding fathers and rested in the fields where cowboys lived their storied lives. I touched the names of the soldiers who gave their lives in Vietnam and prayed at the hallowed scar in the earth where the twin towers once stood. I’ve seen the Lady who proudly holds high her torch – whose sight welcomed my great-grandfather to this land all those years ago. And although my feet have danced on the same Virginia shores on which my English ancestors arrived 13 generations ago, I realized in the moment when my eyes gazed at the passing rice fields that a lot of what I’ve seen has been from the comfort of my car while traveling down the interstate. Yes, I am like the Martian I married. I like the planned and predictable adventure one finds on the well-traveled road.
But is that really the life I want to live? When I’m old and gray and ready to leave this world, what stories will I have to tell? What adventures will have marked my life? To my great dismay, I am approaching my mid-thirties. I know that it doesn’t sound that bad, but when I look back, I am startled by the speed at which my twenties raced by. It all seems like it was over in a blink of an eye. I don’t want to arrive at the end of my thirties and realize that I have squandered yet another decade of precious life by living inside my comfort zone and avoiding the risks adventures require. I think, as Christians, we are called to live a different life which naturally lends itself to adventure. But I fear I am missing out on that life. Although I work hard at living the Christian life, I tend to live it on my terms – in my comfort zone. I know God will always allow me to experience Him on my terms, what am I missing by staying in my comfort zone? How much more exciting will the adventure be on His terms?
Jesus surrendered Himself body and soul to us and for us. And he continues to do so at every Mass into the hands of the priest at the altar. At the altar, He invites us to return that love; to offer Him that same surrender of our lives; to enter into that perfect life-giving agape love the Holy Trinity shares. And when we do so and receive His body and soul into our hearts, He lives in us and through us. And He desires to take our surrendered souls on an adventure of a lifetime. He desires to share heaven with us here on earth. But we have to let go of our comfort zone. We have to truly surrender and agree to get off the interstate. We may even have to get out of the car. And although we may not find a Chick-fil-a, we will find an adventure like no other. We will experience God like we have never imagined. And like my wise Martian says, we should “sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. Unlike the iPhone, the man driving the car knows where he’s going.”
Copyright 2011 Lori Miller