Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Traveling mercies

Image found at Desert Pastor.
As mentioned, I've been reading Anne Lamott's book, "Traveling mercies">. The title alone has stirred some thoughts in my heart. Here written below are some of the ripples of idea on living in and through traveling mercies.

When I was a little girl and throughout my childhood, I remember the ritual of praying with my family before any significant road trip. My Dad would say, "Let's hold hands, we're going to ask God for traveling mercies." I'd usually be sitting in the middle seat,being the youngest of three kids, perched between my brother who was seven years older than I and my sister who four years older than I. My sister would happily grab my hand and my brother would reluctantly hold a few of my fingers to officially complete the prayer circle. He didn't mind the prayer part, but holding his littlest sister's hand - that was a bit too much for any teenage boy.

Most of our road trips involved heading to the Pittsburgh area for my sister's heart check ups at Pittsburgh's Children Hospital about every six weeks. We'd always stay with our Grandparents, in a small house that seemed impossible to have raised six children in. Somehow, though they made the stair separated attic work as a bedroom for all those kids. My sister and I would stay on the right side of the finished attic where a beautiful glass amber chandelier hung heavily over the full sized bed. There were storage cupboards throughout the attic that were filled with toys, linens and a mish-mash of odds and ends.

When we went to Pittsburgh, it always seemed like a great adventure. We left rural western PA with one stop light, one grocery store, and creek wading and went to a place filled with shopping malls, swimming pools and wonder bread. Things moved much faster in Pittsburgh, and to this day I still love that about the city. Somehow though, in the midst of all the hustle and bustle there seems to be a greater need for traveling mercies. There are more people, more cars, more of everything - including opportunities for danger as well as delight. As a child though, I mostly looked at the rush of the city as adventure personified; even once when our car stalled out on the highway due to torrential rains and my Uncle Jack came to our rescue. Uncle Jack seemed a little like Indiana Jones with rain dripping off his forehead, smiling ear to ear and nonchalantly saying, "How are yins doin?", in a thick Burg accent. I'm not sure he even noticed the downpour that day. Uncle Jack got us home safely, but even more than that, he became an instrument of traveling mercies.

So often, I think I should be on the receiving end of traveling mercies. What if, I could become the giver of traveling mercies, just like my Uncle Jack? When I think to consider all the road trips in my life so far, I know that I've been the recipient of many traveling mercies on many rainy, snowy and sunny days. As the summer rolls into August, there are many plans for vacations and road trips. Prayers of traveling mercies will be spoken, siblings hands will sometimes be held, and God will watch over our movements. All this is a great blessing, but somehow I'm feeling an urge to become a giver of mercy in all the travels and relationships I encounter day to day. In light of all the love, grace and mercy I've received; how could I not want to become an instrument to pronounce mercy to those around me?

Maybe what I'm feeling is a beginning of understanding in Jesus words as told by Paul in Acts 20:35, "It is better to give than it is to receive." Wherever we travel, in our neighborhood, on rural plains, or glittering city streets; we have the opportunity to be mobile instruments of mercy. Maybe if mercy was our mode of travel, it would be a little easier to walk hand in hand - even in the rainstorms of life.


Matthew said...

You are such a good story teller...I guess that must be why you are an artist.

Lamont said...

Thank Matt... I love telling stories!