Parents' perspectives on a Catholic vocation journey
Last Sunday I was sitting at the computer when my phone rang.
It was Evan. Unusual for him to call on a Sunday.
“Hi,” I said. “What’s up?”
“I need an exit.”
“I’m lost in DC and need help getting back to the college.”
“Ah…where are you?”
“Ummm…Ord and…hang on…there’s a cross street coming up…4th.”
“Okay…stand by…” I called up Google maps and felt a little like an air traffic controller in one of those disaster movies. Here I was, thousands of miles away, guiding Evan in with my voice. “Got you. Tell me the next cross street.”
“Okay. Here is comes…45the Place.”
“Bingo. You’re headed west.” I asked Google for directions to St. Paul’s college and it obligingly tossed up a cheerful blue line tracing a path across the city.”
“Okay. I can guide you in from here.”
So I stayed on the line, giving directions, tweaking the route when real-world road conditions didn’t match my tidy-bird’s eye view, and easing Evan back home. While he drove, he filled me in on just how he’d come to be in an unfamiliar part of the city.
As part of his training, he is encouraged to attend other churches. In his novice year he’s attended services in churches where English is never spoken, he’s taken some of his classmates to a Mormon ward meeting, and he’s developed a particular fondness for the spirituality of the Eastern Rite churches. This past Sunday he went to a Ruthenian church. Like many of the Easter Rite churches, it is considered to be in full communion with Rome. The rites are different, though, from those you’d find in the average Roman Catholic church in the U.S.
Evan enjoyed his visit, but got turned around on the way out and needed a little help finding his way.
Which reminded me that — even a continent away — I’m still the Dad.
Both of my sons still seek my advice on matters small and large. (They don’t always take my advice — that’s the beauty of asking for advice. Just because somebody gives it to you, you don’t have to accept it.) While he was an undergraduate, Evan frequently asked me to review his papers and make suggestions as I saw fit. Ian has sought my advice on school projects, his novels and various job situations. And, at various times, I’ve served as their personal OnStar.
(Aside: I don’t blame Evan for getting lost. Out here where Evan grew up, the cities are laid out in nice, square grids. Addresses tend to be things like 550 East 300 South. If you know the city and the E/W and N/S coordinates, it’s almost impossible to get lost. Especially if you know that the Wasatch Mountain range lies to the east. If your destination is to the east, drive toward the mountains. South? Keep the mountains on your left side. By contrast, the roads of Washington DC appear to have been laid out after a night of heavy drinking by contractors who were unclear on the concept of “the shortest distance between two points.” Of course, that could just be my western bias.)
All of which got me thinking about my relationship with God. You know, God the Father?
(To be clear — and to avoid giving offense — I’m not suggesting that I’m God or even particularly God-like. The situation just gave me pause to think.)
When we call out to God for help, it’s usually because we’re lost somewhere. We’ve gotten stuck or confused or overwhelmed and need to find a way back home. And God is still the Father. Still there. Waiting to give us guidance and advice.
Even though I don’t follow that advice as often (or as closely) as I should, I still find the fact of God’s presence comforting.
For a more elegant exploration of this idea, I suggest you click over to the Ignatian Spirituality blog.