In the days when cars had wide bench seating in (front and) back, before car seats were mandatory and before seatbelts were a thing, it was a regular occurrence for several kids to be able to fall asleep in the space available to them. The ‘way backs’ in station wagons, with seats folded down, were virtual bedrooms at night and playrooms during the day for transiting youth. I remember an aunt and uncle having one to transport their tribe of seven kids to our place in the summer. I think it’s amazing to think how many miles our young selves have traveled while completely ‘out.’ Even today, with all the safety harnesses and belts in place, young parents repeatedly declare their vacation departure times to be around 11 PM so they can drive through the night in peace and quiet (racking up yet more miles to the zonked kids tally), their cherubs visiting dreamland.
Of course, not all trips took place at night. There were daytime travels as well. These were the ones with a parent’s all-time favorite question: “Are we there yet?” followed by the second favorite: “How much longer till we get there?” (Aggravating parental responses to both: ‘Almost,’ and ‘Not much further.’) These were also the trips where the vehicle’s interior was trashed almost beyond recognition, nerves were frayed, children were little monsters, and parents vowed never to do this again.
Poor night-traveling children! They had no idea what was happening! They went to sleep at home and, like a miracle, woke up at grandma and grampa’s! Slightly disorienting, all that! But all the additional, doting attention, with candy, helped to make the sudden transition successful without any lasting trauma.
I think many of our lives collide with Jesus’ life with no hint that this encounter includes our being whisked away on a journey called discipleship, no indication of any apprenticeship program, no clue of any sort of transformation process having begun, no thought that the life Jesus lived here on earth was a prototype for all his eventual followers, including us. The tragedy in this, unlike the innocent nature of the mileage-accumulating tots above, is that we can ‘sleep’ through our entire new life thinking all’s well, there’s nothing to check on, autopilot is just fine and dandy – blissfully slumber through and wake up at our destination. I say tragedy because this scenario fails to hear Jesus’ invitation to join in on the expansion program of the Kingdom, fails to bring us to maturity, fails to thrill us to the excitement of seeing the Kingdom at work, causes us, through ignorance, to fail to complete our assignment. I think we still have time to wake up and smell the roses or the coffee or . . . PD