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Thursday, October 29, 2009

RainGlare

A Free-Association post compliments of Adoro being random:

I swore to myself I'd never write about my discernment again.

Obviously I'm an idiot for EVER having done so. It's hard to write about especially now, and when I do it, I get frustrated by the comments if I leave them open. It's frustrating to me because all I'm trying to do is be heard. The voice of those who are discerning is a lost one, and one often ignored, willfully. It's difficult, then, to put myself out there as that voice, and find that even the explanations are minimized, or people think that it's something that needs to be "fixed." We are a nation of "fixers". We have this weird need to end ANY kind of suffering, even if it is suffering that belongs to a certain kind of purification or formation.

We have this weird idea that everything needs to be comfortable or that everyone needs to be comforted. And we are willing to run all OVER people as long as it means they are "fixed" according to our own personal definitions.

As an aside:
Personally, part of my discernment problem is just that I happen to be a cold fish and can't stand people fawning over me, and I don't tend to fawn over others, either. (Maybe that comes from my few German genes, dunno). I question, though, exactly how I can both be a cold fish and a total softie with my heart on my sleeve all the time, but there it is. I'm a paradox even to myself.

I don't really know why I'm writing any of this. Who really cares? (For the literalists: that's a rhetorical question coming from the wry side. Please don't answer it.)

But here goes....

This evening, I got caught in some freeway traffic. It was rainy, the roads glared, the headlights glared, the windshield was partially fogging no matter what I did, and it was raining but inconsistently, which, combined with road spray, made it extra hard to see. When I drive in such conditions, even if I'm following an Uncle Ike type, I tend to just stay there until there is a huge gap in traffic, because I fear I'll miss something in all the rainglare and end up changing lanes directly into the path of a oncoming semi or something and end up being spatula'd up off the road and sent home in a bucket.

Tonight, as I drove a particularly bad stretch of constantly changing traffic, I followed the crowd in the right lane, and when I began to see flashing lights, I did check and try to move over a lane per Minnesota law. I wasn't able to get all the way over, and in fact, a racing driver actually swept PAST me as I was passing the Police Officer walking between the stopped vehicle and his own. I was amazed by the audacity of that driver, who should have KNOWN that law but still chose to ignore it and nearly cause an accident as he went between me and a car on our left in the next lane.

I was amazed only in that weird rhetorical sense that comes with wanting a Pollyanna attitude, yet not able to find it through all the cynicism that tells me the driver was either a total idiot, a total criminal, or driving so fast through the rainglared roads that he didn't see the cop on the side of the road until he was already done cutting people off. So, "amazed" but not a bit surprised. Rather, it was expected. Which is why I don't change lanes in such conditions. I'm not a Pollyanna.

Anyway, as I got back into the right lane, I thought about that Officer, and prayed for him. The cars in front of me...NONE tried to get into the left lane, even though it was clear. They slowed down, but at 50 mph down from 60...it's still deadly.

I remembered my own freeway traffic stops, quite vividly, actually. I hated them. I hated standing at the side of the road, cars and trucks flying past me as if we weren't there, as I bent towards the driver, trying to hear, trying to yell above the sound of traffic, but still trying to make sure I wasn't entering dangerous space.

Officer Safety is primary, even when the idea is a farce.

More cops are killed in traffic stops than in any other activity.

We can hover our hand near the gun on our hips, or we can have our hand on them directly, ready to draw, but if we're taken out by a semi, it doesn't matter what we're holding...it's the bucket and the deposit in the dirt for us.

That's what happened to a friend's husband. She was a cop in the city, he was a State Trooper. I remember when they were married, how happy she was. I remember her pregnancy...how happy she was. She was a good Sergeant and in charge of our Reserve unit. I graduated college, she was one of my references, I was hired, and after I'd left the Job, by a few years, I saw it on the news. A semi driver hit a State Trooper who was standing by a car at a traffic stop. The Trooper was killed. My friend...devastated. Their son...without their father.

It THRILLED me to see the new law in Minnesota requiring drivers to change lanes when they see an emergency vehicle on the side of the road. Yet, I realized tonight, that when rainglare comes into play, the law doesn't matter...no one wants to change lanes. They are willing to slow down, but suddenly the wild card driver that kills cops becomes more real to everyone, and no one wants to give way...everyone is just trying to survive.

And so all I could do was pray, because even I couldn't change lanes to give enough room, and when I did, the idiot without regard for anyone came flying out of nowhere.

Tonight...

Earlier this evening I called a friend about something, and we hadn't spoken in awhile. She knew about my discernment and made a comment. But she doesn't know what's happened. She said, "I hear you've been discerning something...."

I responded, "Not anymore. Not so much. Not ever." I paused, then said, "I'm in a black hole."

I found myself near tears. I've been trying not to think about it. To be content with where I am. Which is exactly where I started: nowhere. I was surprised at the tears that nearly came, and the frustration mounting to the surface. To realize Hope is really not part of my vocabulary any more, and hasn't been for a long time.

My friend was surprised, and said, "Well, we're all trying to find our way." Yes, true, but as I pointed out to her...SHE knew she was supposed to be married...and was living that. She has a foundation.

I'm just floating. Blinded. Driving in the rainglare. Standing in it, trying to survive.

RAINGLARE

It never stops raining. I can't see through all the glare, through all the mist, and all the darkness. Are there lights? Of course, that's what causes the glare. It's not good light. It's blinding, disconcerting, and because it's glare, it's also false.

How long have I been driving through glare, using the glare as guiding light?

I feel like I'm still on the side of the road, doing what I have to do, turning my back to do so, just waiting for that semi to come out of nowhere to run me down.

That's the nature of discernment. Everyone discerning their Vocation has to stand at that roadside, focusing on something else, trusting they'll survive, but knowing that everything depends on it. Vocation IS eternity in the sense that it is what brings us there. We're just trying to find the RIGHT road.

But a few of us wander for a very long time. 40 years isn't unheard of. Maybe more.

And we should expect to be trampled, to be run over by everyone else, because, after all, we're in their way...even when we're not. We should expect to be splashed, to be yelled at, to be given bad directions by people who aren't even FROM the venue within which we are seeking. That is the life of a traveller.

That's what discernment is; trying to find the road to our destination in spite of all the glare, in spite of all the rain that causes the glare. We're trying to get through the false signals, figure out the source of light from the mere reflections, making our way with the proper speed through the signals, moving with the traffic but not passing our own proper place.

Keep in mind: a Vocation is only the road...not the destination. It's the road we need to LEAD us to the destination, that destination being Eternal Life.

What IS our proper place?

Good question.

The Present. Where we are right now, in this moment. If we need to move over to accommodate some one else, we do so. If we need to dodge to avoid someone reckless, we do so. If we have to brake, we do so. And if we are totally blinded by the rain and by the glare, we stop and get our bearings, for to do otherwise is folly and may cause us to be lost.

Or maybe we DO need to be the one standing at the side of the road, with someone else, putting everything on the line. After all...it's ALL about sacrifice. We never know when we'll be called to offer our lives.

Just ask the Saints....
*

9 comments:

RJW said...

I really like the imagery of your analogies.

saintos said...

Not missing the thrust of the very solid analogise imagery but reflecting on the aspect of hiway police killed in the line of duty I am sorry to say, in my part of our province we have a number of overpasses renamed in honour of men and women killed in exactly the manner you describe. Sadly this has precious little to no bearing on the way people continue to drive.

Abbey said...

We have become a society without any sense of humanity, much less, mortality.

About the fogging windshield, it's odd that it can be raining outside, but not really "cold", the windshield will fog and warm defrost makes it worse. Only resort is "COLD" defrost ... am I a goober or does this make any sense to anyone else.. ? If you have fog lights, it helps.

Anonymous said...

I've heard different advice from the few priests I know of who regularly bring up the subject of vocations: I've heard it said, many times, that if someone expresses an interest in a vocation, or is truly discerning one with seriousness, that we ought to speak to that person; invite them to express their concerns and encourage them if necessary; ask them questions that might help them to clarify their own minds; pray for them; and otherwise be open to being used by God to help that person make that discernment. You're saying that those actions (or some of them, at any rate)is akin to "running over people".

Austringer said...

Abbey, I think you're right about the cold defrost. So, you're not a goober!!

Melody K said...

Speaking of discernment wars; I found out yesterday that one of my cousins has been ordained a priest. She was always someone I considered to be a strong Catholic (yes you read that right!). A twenty-one car pile-up on the discernment interstate, I'm afraid.

Adoro said...

RJW ~ thanks

saintos ~ People apparently need to be involved in that sort of thing directly before they figure out that maybe they should slow down/move over/ stop driving like an idiot.

Abbey ~ Yes, both things you mentioned drive me nuts! lol

Anon ~ I'm writing everything on my blog in the context of my ONGOING STORY. I apologize for the confusion. If you go to the tags under the post and click on "discernment" you'll see that there are about 500 or so posts on that very topic on my blog.

What the priest said is for someone in the beginning of the process who might be "thinking about" a vocation of some sort. It's not what you do for someone who is 35, has visited communities, has an SD, etc.

Melody K ~ Wow, sorry to hear that news about your cousin. Prayers she wakes up and renounces the costume party and comes back Home!

Austringer said...

Melody K -- as a very dear friend of mine is wont to say, Holy Crapsters, Batman!

It might be enlightening to trace the influences on your cousin, to see how and when things went wrong. I'll pray for her....and the "bishop" who "ordained" her.

Anonymous said...

Hi Adoro, I recently read somewhere that if the soldiers had been prevented from crucifying Jesus, Mary would have taken on the task. That is, she was so united to him in his mission, so obedient to the will of God, that she would complete the sacrifice demanded of Abraham. (I think the source was quoting St. Anselm.) What does this have to do with your post? Well, if you are in a bad and dangerous place, you won't be abandoned by Jesus or Mary -- you have purchased at an unimaginable price. (I have a son on a dangerous path and thinking that comforts me!)

ML