>"You awake? Guess you could call it that, my eyes are open." (Thelma and Lousie)

>In 80s my step-dad, mom and myself (my sister bailed out and went to Rio instead) went on a road trip from Sao Paulo to Argentina. This is a 1000 mile journey (though down there it is 1647 kilometers, it feels longer). My stepfather was Argentinian and he wanted to show us his hometown of Mendoza at the foot of the Andes (which, BTW is another 1000 miles form Buenos Aires).

On one particularly boring stretch of road, in the middle of the night, as we were trying to reach the next town on time, the car tire exploded. And I mean exploded, not just a whispering flat. no. BAM! Luckily my dad was able to steer us into safety, change the tire and find a truck stop in the middle of nowhere (somehow there are theses oases in the middle of nowhere quite often in Brazil). As they were repairing the tire it was found that a horse’s tooth was what caused the fantastic explosion. A horse’s tooth? Have you ever seen a horse’s tooth. They are HUGE.

At any rate, the mechanic gave me the tooth. My mom was standing by the side, pointing a horrified finger at the thing screaming “unclean, unclean”. But the man-folk prevailed, and I got to keep my treasure. In fact I had it for many many years. Of all the things I did and saw and bought during that month long trip, this was by far the most memorable.

I have come to believe that in every person, every family there this near-mythical thing called The Trip. Depending on the family you grew up with you may have traveled a lot. In that case there were many wonderful trips, but there is always one trip which stands out for you. Something changed then. If you have siblings then their trip may be a different one. But frequently there is one family trip which changes everything for everyone.

Hollywood, perspicacious peddlers of dreams and desires that they are, has often capitalized on that theme. You think of travel movies and it reads like a Who’s Who of Hollywood: “It Happened One Night” and “The Wizard of Oz” (in the 30s); “Easy Rider”, “Two-Lane Blacktop” and “Smokey and the Bandit” (Seventies); “National Lampoon’s Vacation”, “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”, “The Sure Thing”, “Cannonball Run” (all in the 80s); “Thelma and Louise” (90s); “Little Miss Sunshine” (00s). Phew! I watch too many movies. And I skipped so many!

But this is a much older theme. The earliest recorded story that we have is the Epic of Gilgamesh from Babylonia circa 2500BC. It is an epic tale of gods and goddesses and man and death and life. It involves, unsurprisingly the biggest, baddest road trip anyone can think of. Forget Vegas, baby, we are going down to the underworld!

Fast forward a thousand years or so (to 1100BC) and you get Homer writing the first blockbuster, the Odyssey, a great road trip basically about a boy and a girl. Really! Isn’t it always about love?

Over and over we have traveled, and continue to travel.

Think of Abram who had to go almost 1,000 miles just to buy an “H”. Think of the Jewish Patriarchs, of Jacob and Joseph (and wives and kids). Think of Moses and the exodus, and their search for the perfect felafel – eventually God gives them the heavenly kind!

Think of Jesus’ own perambulations. Think of Saul having to drive to Damascus to get a name change, and then he went on another road trip to “Arabia” (no one knows exactly where, some suggest Sinai). And then he comes back only to go off again on a bunch of road trips. The latest of which is your own church – think about it – you go to church because God went on a road trip with a murderous zealot Pharisee named Saul about 2,000 years ago.

Name change! There is something deep there. Think of the disciples and how they got nicknames from traveling around in the Jesus van. Personally I believe it was Peter who nicknamed the brothers James and John the “sons of thunder”, and I believe it had more to do with their insistence in having bean burritos when they hit the road…but I digress.

Do you not think that the disciples got together and told each other road trip stories? Peter would say, “Remember that time when we drove up to the mountain and it was foggy and there were those lights?” and John would chime in, “Remember that time we took the ferry across the Sea of Galilee and then Peter forgot where we were and decided to step out and go chat with Jesus?” And so on…

So what is your “road trip”? What is your National Lampoon’s Vacation? What is your road to Damascus? Hopefully you do not have a “Thelma and Louise” story, but hey, all’s good!

Think on these things! Think from where God has called you, and to where God is calling you. Make each day a step towards your Jerusalem, your Promised Land, your Exodus story, your Damascus.

And if you need some renewing of your mind, then try going on a trip – if possible a literal one. And if in your peregrinations you run across a horse’s tooth, avoid running over it – they get mad. And you don’t want to get a horse’s tooth mad…


About spaceloom

An urban monk, and an experienced spiritual director with a Masters in Psychology. Married with two children. Want to know me better? Read my thoughts.
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