I drive. A lot it turns out. With being at the seminary, I am frequently making 2 or 3 trips across town per week in my lovely Subaru Forester. With each trip being at least 30, probably more like 45 minutes, I'm spending about four hours or so a week in the car. That's a lot of drive time!
Now, I'm a full-blooded American, so time is money, right? How am I to spend 4 plus hours in a vehicle, and still be a productive member of society? The temptation is clear: reach for the phone, make a few calls, spend some time thinking of my next talk or planning the next retreat. If I'm working for a living, I ought to be squeezing every once of free time out of the car. Or at least that's what society tells me, and boy am I tempted to believe them. That's not so much a dashboard as it is my office away from the office. I am meant to believe that this is a place to get stuff done.
But lately, I've tried to swing the other way. As I'm contemplating my schedule next term, and thinking about how much driving back and forth I might have to do, a friend of mine suggested turning those hours in the car into "me-time," maybe even use it to catch up on prayer or meditation. So the last few days I've been trying to use my phone only for listening to podcasts, those of a religious bent like Rob Bell's new ROBCAST or the Relevant Podcast or some other spiritual fueled listening. I have from time to time turned on worship bands, and tried to have my own little service right there behind the steering wheel. That car isn't an office, it's a sanctuary. But only if I choose to make it so. Only if I do the metaphorical work of taking my sandals off, and recognizing the dashboard as holy ground. And the strangest thing happens when you approach your commute that way: you get to where you're going energized and enthusiastic. I'm ready to take on the day, because I had church service on the way in.
Now of course you ought to worship in community, not just in your car. But my point is this: are there parts of our days, whole sections really, where we could be focusing in on God but rather focus on our to-do lists and work? Could we change some of our offices away from the office into sanctuaries of the real world? I bet we could. And I bet we'd be better people for it.
More to come.