I found this cross in the boot of my car recently.
So I put it in the front of my car. I’m not completely sure why.
But an interesting thing has happened. It’s made me a better driver.
I don’t mean that in some magical way, I can reverse park in one go every time. Or that I always remember to apply my handbrake at a STOP sign. Or that I M.S.M* every seven seconds (although for any traffic enforcement officers reading this then yes, I always do those things…).
I like to think I’m a reasonably safe driver. That I’m aware of my surroundings and that I take into consideration every time I get in that car (particularly when I’m transporting my loved ones) that I’m in charge of a heavy lump of metal that can potentially take a life. And our car only has a couple of scrape marks…
I like to think too that I don’t give in to road rage. That if someone is intent on cutting me up then if that’s what makes them happy, go ahead my friend. Or if someone in front of me is a bit of a ‘Sunday driver’ then hey ho, we’re all on a journey. Jog on (although if you could jog a bit faster, that’d be handy).
I know though that there are times when – though not road rage exactly – I give in to, what shall I call it – ‘road annoyance’. It ends up being more a state of mind than an action. But it’s there nonetheless.
And it’s horrible. The things I think (or say out loud – with my kids in the car for goodness’ sake). The shakes of the head, and yes, at times – the slamming on of the horn (forgetting it’s there to alert to danger, not to make a point) are not becoming.
Because actually, what good does it do?
And so – this cross.
It a visible signal to me of what I believe inside.
That Christ lives in me and I in Him.
And would Christ berate a fellow traveller for making some mistakes along the way?
I doubt it.
I mean I know he got cross with people (look at the temple table turning thing).
But I kind of think that was more to do with a greater injustice than someone pushing in.
Or pulling out of a side road.
Or driving too s-l-o-w-l-y…
A couple of years ago I read this book during Lent.
And the image of this book came back to me just a couple of days ago.
And when I took it down from my bookshelf it struck me that the background, which I’d originally seen as a stained glass window, now appeared to me to be more kaledeidoscopic (is that a word?). I don’t know if that was intentional, but it made me think – what would I focus on if I was looking at the world through a kaleidoscope?
I think my focus would alter depending upon the twists and turns.
But of course the central image would remain the same.
And that’s pretty much – for me – what the book says. And it’s well worth a read as Graham Tomlin says it in much more eloquent language than I use and with insights much more profound! In fact in his introduction he writes:
“When I put on my glasses, as I do first thing in the morning, from that moment on, I am hardly aware that I am looking through them – they have just become part of the way I see…My glasses enable me to see…by actually changing the way I look at something…and in the very act of looking, they change the way I see the world.”
Looking Through the Cross: The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book 2014
Graham Tomlin Bloomsbury Continuum 2013
But what does this mean for me day to day? What would it mean if as soon as I woke up on a morning, I could put on a pair of ‘God glasses’? If my ‘God glasses’ were in essence a big kaleidoscope in front of my eyes?
Well I think it would mean that, in every situation, interaction, altercation, reaction, I would try to think ‘Where is God in this?’. I might try to see round, through, next to, above, underneath, the situation. I could try twisting the kaleidoscope to get a different view.
Sometimes I might have my hand over the hole where the light gets in. Sometimes I would decide that I wouldn’t want to wear my kaleidoscopic God glasses because I would be carrying too much other stuff. Sometimes I’d put them on but keep my eyes shut.
But there might be times when I do let the light in. When I put some of my other baggage down. When I open my eyes. Those will be the times when I see beauty. I look through kaleidoscope/glasses and see the myriad different colours and patterns and permutations.
And when I’m driving in my car, I do try to wear those kaleidoscopic God glasses. And a fellow traveller makes an error of judgement (either on purpose or accidentally) I glance through the cross that is ever before my eyes. And I try to view my reaction to their action, through that cross.
And I think I’m finding that even in my car, in the hustle and bustle of rush hour traffic, the boredom of sitting in a queue at a junction, the trickiness of a challenging driver…God is by me, and with me, and in me.
And, I hope, I in Him.
*Mirror. Signal. Manoeuvre.