There’s a song that says Life is a highway; I want to ride it all day long. My experience has been that life is a spiral that spins ever inward, or maybe ever outward. Sometimes it moves fast, like an exhilarating highway ride on a sunny spring day with the windows open and my hair blowing in the breeze. Sometimes it creeps along like a slug, a slow slog through muck and mire. Most of the time it’s somewhere in the middle – a walk, a stroll, a bike ride, an amble.
The thing about life’s spiral is that it touches on the same places each time we come around. Here, this is the place where I remember what it’s like to feel God’s face shining on me like the sun. And here, this is the place where I remember I have only a limited amount of time, so I should savor and cherish every moment. And there, that’s the place where I let some 30-second task slide and slide and slide until it takes me 2 hours to catch up and fix everything. And this one, oh, this is the one where I’m reminded that I am not in control, that God is. Some of these places are frustrating; some are sad; some are glorious.
Each time I come around the spiral — inward, toward the immanent God, or outward, toward the transcendent God of the entire universe — I remember the times I have spent at this place before. It can be difficult to learn from our mistakes. We like to do things the way we’ve done them before, even if we know good and well that the way we’ve done them doesn’t work. Sometimes it takes us three or five or seventeen times around before we figure it out, but that’s okay.
The Good News is that while we wend this spiral, we are not alone. Even when it feels like the walls are closing in on us, the love of God surrounds us and upholds us. When we stumble or trip or make the same damned mistake again, Jesus is there beside us – Jesus who stumbled under the weight of the cross, Jesus who tramped all over the Middle East in sandals (and probably stepped in goat dung more than once), Jesus who knows what it means to walk the spiral of human life. And when we don’t know what to do, the Holy Spirit guides us through the spiral — giving us breath, giving us life — and helps us find the wisdom to make those rough places better on the next trip ’round.
I pray today that – wherever you are on the spiral – you will be filled with the wisdom and light of the Holy One, the triune God, who walks beside you and never leaves you alone, God who loves you into life.