Driving Ahead at a Constant Rate of Speed and Getting Nowhere Fast

One Minister’s Musings

Aug. 2, 2011

Driving Ahead at a Constant Rate of Speed and Getting Nowhere Fast

The car moved at a constant rate of speed, yet it seemed to get nowhere fast.  I was driving back to Illinois last night after visiting my cousins and showing my hometown to Terry.  We drove into the night and I kept looking at the speedometer and mile markers.  Would we ever get back?

I took Terry to Nebraska so that he could know more about me by learning about my childhood and growing up in small town Nebraska. We had visited relatives and my hometown.  Of course, my relatives told him many embarrassing stories about the stupid things I did as a child. I had moved back in time, getting nowhere fast.

In my hometown we drove through the one block of businesses in the downtown. I pointed out the soda fountain that was now a feed store, the tavern that was an antique shop; the hardware store now a storage unit, the opera house now a meeting hall, and the café which was newly built.  And the meat market, fabric shop and grocery store had been torn down. My home place looked so much smaller as the trees were larger.  There were buildings where there should be open space and open space where there should be buildings. Everything was different. And yet, everything was the same.  Perhaps time passing with this small town was much like the car last night – moving in a constant rate of speed yet getting nowhere fast.

We walked through my home church and I told stories about singing in the choir, being questioned in confirmation, tripping and falling on my face when I was an angel walking around the manager during the Christmas pageant, and the bags of candy with oranges, peanuts and ribbon candy I received after the event. We visited the cemetery and I paid tribute to my mom and dad who were buried there.  I had walked these same grounds with my mother each Memorial Day weekend at dusk and retold the stories she told me about the various people buried there.

I had sped ahead in my life, constantly moving forward, but perhaps it really wasn’t going anywhere. I was more different than I could ever imagine as a child. And yet, at the same time, I remained the same. Speeding ahead and getting nowhere fast, for I am deeply rooted in the love of this place – love given to me, love challenging me, love even hurting me, but love, a constant love.

On campus, I met many new people steadily on the move. And each student, each staff, each faculty person speeds ahead into new knowledge, discovering new realities, engaging in new relationships, expanding into wider horizons, asking deeper questions, affirming a greater expanse of life.

And yet, as I talk, listen, wonder, and explore with others, I am reminded of the power of love that does not let go and doesn’t go anywhere. It just stays present.

That’s the gift of this work of campus ministry. That’s the gift of embodying God’s love, as best we can. It’s the paradox of constant movement and constant love – steadily moving ahead, growing widely, AND getting nowhere fast, for nothing is outside the love of God.

Gently,

Pr E