5/04/2013

Through the Intersection

I have such a traffic jam going on in my head it's like rush hour in Orange County. I remember when it use to take me an hour and a half to go 15 miles to work every weekday. I didn't mind after the first few times. I found preachers to listen to and I people-watched the cars around me. Everybody has their way of passing the time. But if I wasn't paying attention to traffic I would nearly rear-end someone or miss a valuable acceleration window and peeve off the coffee drinker behind me. It's so easy to lose focus in the waiting. Routine starts to relax us until we forget that we're suddenly hurdling down a concrete river with thousands of tons of metal all trusting that we'll make it to work alive. Suddenly it becomes about getting in front of the slow guy in the fast lane and gaining that extra three minutes. We're so easily bored with inactivity. But there's actually so much going on, isn't there.

I took the kids to Saturday Market today. In Oregon that means I took my kids to see the "hippies", as I like to call them. The kiddos stayed safely in the double stroller as we navigated through packed rows of booths. I had my sunglasses on and was able to observe people without anyone knowing a whole lot about what I was thinking. I just strolled by merchants and farmers and took it all in. The kids were quiet for the first fifteen minutes and waved to the occasional stranger who smiled at them. Then my boy smelled popcorn and he got instantly whiny for lunch. A heavy sadness hung in the midst of everyone. There was such a dissatisfaction in this group that professed enlightenment. I noticed how many words were posted and worn. So many words! Stuff like "You're the reason I'm medicated." and "Occupy Eugene, not (insert middle eastern country of choice)" I spent a great deal of time reading peoples' declarations of their beliefs and protests. I saw a mild-mannered woman with a shirt that said something about how she was against "the war on drugs". Against it? A lot of it was confusing for me. I don't really know what they mean by "occupy". Apparently I'm not in the know. By the time I'd cycled through the entire market I felt dumber, more tired, and slightly depressed.

What's funny is I used to be that one hippy girl sitting near the dirty drum circle, smoking cigarettes and talking smack. It had felt so good to be part of the crunchy-looking dread-locked kids with patchwork pants and tattoos hanging out. I didn't understand a lot of what people stood for but I knew I wanted "peace". I even had a peace sign tattooed on my shoulder as a seventeen-year-old. I hated when people would fight and I'd get right in the middle of it to stop them. Today, however, I could hardly look at the hippies even though they were everywhere. It wasn't because I was afraid or judgmental. It was because I knew them without knowing them and I hurt for them. I loved them. Those are the boys and girls I loved and left behind. I miss them. But I never really understood them. They didn't understand me, either. I always longed for something more than that brokenness.

On the way back to the car I saw a freight train up ahead. My kids and I love trains so I started running toward it pushing the double stroller with all my might. We made it in time to see the last dozen train cars go slowly by only ten feet away from our faces. We heard the squeak of the giant wheels and felt the rumble underneath us. The best part is always the train whistle (it doesn't even sound like a whistle! It's like a fog horn, why do they call it a whistle?) that cuts through all the other city noise to declare it's presence. The puny automobiles swish by like gentle waves brushing the shoreline. But not the mighty train! It hollers, shakes, and monsters it's heavy self across the landscape like an unstoppable force. What a magnificent machine and what a contrast to the fleeting words printed on t-shirts and cardboard. The train doesn't ask you to listen to it's voice, it just tells you. It doesn't wait it's turn in the intersection to walk, carrying it's sign. The train takes the intersection and you'd better wait for it to pass. I think I ran toward the train because I wanted to see glory. I'd had my fill of overpriced knick knacks and produce. I'm always looking for the extraordinary and the force that can't be moved. I thought peace was it, if I would just give it a chance. But the real satisfaction comes when I am in the presence of the unshakable God. I want to get on His back and rumble through this life unhindered and undistracted from His purposes. Solidly we'd roll on the tracks He's already laid out before us. Others will have to get out of our way. Listen to us bellow our war cry against the captivity of His creation. He's coming... I hear Him now and I'm running toward the sound. He's coming soon.