Last Sunday (August 18, 2019) we had a reading in church where it was said, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.” I know this was not a reference to traffic on Long Island, but bear with me as I make a connection.
I was happy to have my dad with me this past week as we traveled on vacation. Of course I’m always happy to be with my dad, but adding to the joy was the fact that unlike my usual travels when I’m alone, I could now use the HOV lane on the Long Island Expressway and pass the backed up cars in all the other lanes! I view the HOV as the “narrow gate,” as it leads to a “heavenly” trip versus being stuck in traffic.
I suspect that what makes both traveling in the HOV lane and life’s journey through the narrow gate to heaven is the same: you’re not doing it alone by yourself. It is in community that we travel through life, and when we are together with others, there is a strength that makes going through the “narrow gate” more possible, just as traveling with your family makes traveling the HOV lane possible.
Of course some family-in-the-car experiences are less than heavenly. (“Mom! She’s poking me!” “Well that’s because his foot is on my side of the car….” You get the picture.) And sometimes our journey with members of our community is less than heavenly. We can be jealous of each other; we can mistrust others; we can speak ill of others and gossip about them. Indeed we can “poke” each other with our words and deeds.
Some families are experiencing a change in travel for the first time: as they travel in one direction, their car is full of college gear and the college student who is about to be deposited in a land seemingly far away. The return trip feels less complete as someone is now missing, off doing something exciting and noble of course, but still the trip home from college is a defining moment in the life of a parent. Their “baby” is growing up. The independence parents hope for in their child is actually happening. There is a sense of accomplishment, yet it’s a wistful moment. Their child has now gone through a new “narrow gate.”
So as we’re finishing the travel season, whether it’s doing the last of our vacations or taking the kids off to college, let’s value each other’s presence as the gift of God that it is. And let’s keep the poking to a minimum. Otherwise we’re going to have to just turn around and go back!