CAPTURED | Focusing in the ordinary
For all intents and purposes, it was like any other day. My wife and I left our home at around 7:15 a.m. and began navigating the 40-minute drive to the College for Officer Training in downtown Winnipeg. We chatted about our schedules and responsibilities. We turned on the Christmas tunes (Glenys starts this routine November 1!) and got to thinking about our schedules again. Now and then we’d sing a line, chuckle at a wrong word I used and …. back to our schedules.
An impatient driver leaned on his horn, obviously annoyed with a driver that is not as skilled as he – oh, not as skilled as she! If only everyone knew how to drive as good as us, the commute would be without incident!
Let’s see, 12 traffic lights times 2 minutes each …. that’s 24 of our 40 minutes sitting; doing nothing; waiting! Oftentimes these moments are filled with looking out the side window and glancing toward the people in the adjacent vehicles; not too long a gaze mind you. That can be inappropriate. I’ve never understood the skill of women who can fix their hair, put on their makeup, fix their lipstick and drink coffee, all in one sitting! For the most part, most of the other people are like me, wondering why a 14 kilometer drive needs to take so long. Couldn’t they build more lanes or at least have an express lane for vehicles with two or more passengers? That should speed things up (and I wouldn’t have to drive in the regular lanes with everyone else!).
Well, I may as well look out the window again as we slowed to a stop at light number 9 (somewhere around there). But as I did the typical look-out-the-side-window, this time I was distracted (or attracted) to look beyond the next vehicle. There, over the crest of the car next to me, was a magnificent scene. What an irony that the three wise men of the bible’s infamous Christmas story sat atop an Insurance Company building’s front entrance!
I know – some will say they were three men from the east, that the label “wise men” is not accurate. Whatever label, wisdom accompanied their incredibly scientific and prophetic response to the mysterious as they moved toward something that wouldn’t happen for another two years!
My mind recalled the accounts of the story – three men who, with all their questions, understood something profound was on the horizon; three men who gave no thought to the discomfort and nuisance of weeks, even months of travel (and they’re mode of transportation was, well, the picture speaks for itself – they weren’t sitting on heated seats and conditioned air). They were not distracted by the many travellers they met along the way; never disrupted by the “long commute” or wasting energy thinking about why it would take so long. It mattered not that by the time they arrived the Christ-child was not a baby in a manger but a two-year old toddler clinging to his mother’s leg as he gazed at the spectacle of three strange men starring at him. “And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. (Matthew 2:11, NKJV)
My “distracted” mind was jolted back to reality when another horn sounded which, had I not started moving, would likely have resulted in the vehicle behind me joining in with the cacophony of cold, flat, blarring sounds of rushing traffic getting nowhere anytime soon.
The last four minutes of my drive seemed different to the earlier thirty six. I wasn’t as hurried; or impatient; or anxious to “get there”. I was drawn into a reminder that witnessed to several themes. Among them was the sweet reminder of needing to focus on the right things; to not be distracted by the maze of every-day traffic; to see the journey as much a part of the story as reaching the destination.
I pray for me – for you – for us, that this Christmas, we’ll not be distracted but attracted to the story; that we will somehow capture a sense of the mysterious in the mundane. With others, I hope and pray we see the Christ, fall down and focus.
Major Dale Pilgrim, 2013