I almost always listen to podcasts when I am driving in the car by myself. Not music playlists or the radio, which never keep me fully engaged, but podcasts. Except on Sunday mornings, that is, when I seem to have fallen into a different routine. On these early mornings on my way to work, I listen to nothing.
Actually, that is not quite right. I do listen to something: to the sounds of birds signaling for food, the faint stirrings of wildlife in the wooded areas flanking the back streets into Washington, the rumblings of the few cars that are on the road at such an ungodly (no pun intended) weekend hour. Instead of the typical maddening weekday commuting chaos, with bumper-to-bumper traffic, stressed and angry drivers, and absurd amounts of noise pollution, there is calm. I know that I am not alone, but it practically feels that way. It is like I have a special secret all my own. I am awake and aware of what most of the world is not yet.
I receive these mornings as small gifts, moments of respite, that remind me how small I really am. Sometimes these humbling moments come to us in nature--on the mountain top, in the vast waters of the ocean--but sometimes they interrupt our daily rhythms. I know enough by now to recognize that if I opt not to play the music on my way to work on Sunday, I am inviting disruption, a call to recenter myself. These silent drives have the added benefit of convincing me that I can endure another week in the crowded disaster that is the greater Washington DC area, but mostly they re-awaken me to God.
God is in flowers and church liturgies and poetry and doctors, in that which is profound and beautiful, but God also is in the ugly and mundane. It is in my tired seven-year-old Honda Civic amid garish neon traffic cones that I confess my moments of shame from the week before. I recall the unkind things I said to my husband Dan, the jealous feelings that bubbled forth when I learned of a colleague's recent professional achievement, the dismissive glance I gave to the man on the street asking for food, my desire to remain forever oblivious to the sin and evil present within the world and instead focus on the really important stuff like pumpkin-spiced baked goods. I give these shortcomings over to God.
And I remember too the blessings showered upon me: the delicious writing of a new-found author, the support of my seminary, an unexpected dinner with a friend, and the times our legislative bodies get it right.
And I pray. At times I pray for specific people or events or concerns but more often than not, my prayers end with my pleading that when I look at the traffic cones or hear the sounds of the world coming to on lazy (and not-so-lazy) mornings, I remember that I am not alone, that there is much, much more.