At 3:45 p.m. I bravely steered the minivan out of our driveway and headed north to Lexington, Massachusetts, in the greater Boston metro area. Yes, that Lexington. The Lexington of Paul Revere’s ride, the birthplace of the American Revolution where on April 19, 1775, someone fired what Ralph Waldo Emerson famously characterized as the “shot heard round the world.” A shot so powerful that it ignited our war for independence and fanned the flames of worldwide, governmental change. In short, I was headed to the military epicenter of the modern world.
I was not braving two hours of rush hour traffic to visit Minute Man National Park, however, nor to pay my respects to everything that Lexington represents. No, I was headed to a Lexington soccer field for my daughter’s game that evening. As I exited the highway, I found myself heading straight for the Park. Before reaching it, I turned left and headed to the soccer field instead. Waiting for the game to begin, I had to laugh at the absurdity of my situation.
I have lived in New England for over 18 years, and have wanted to visit this historically important place all along, but have never found the time to do so. How absurd was it that I would finally get to this hub of history not by careful planning, but by docilely following my child’s soccer schedule into rush hour traffic? It was an example of how, as legitimately busy people, we habitually jump to take care of urgent things (answering the phone), but often indefinitely neglect things of more lasting importance (enjoying a phone-free, family dinner).
The situation brought to mind a similarly absurd choice I had made earlier that day. Back in late spring I had scheduled my teenagers’ mid-summer, orthodontic appointments for seven in the morning, so that after the appointments we could still get to the beach before my two-year old would need an afternoon nap. Unfortunately, the appointments took nearly two hours instead of the usual 20 minutes. By the time we drove away from orthodontist’s office, it was nearly nine o’clock.
Now, the road from the orthodontic office to my house runs straight toward our church, where daily Mass would be starting at nine o’clock. Through no careful planning, I found myself headed straight toward the one place that morning where I could meet “He who takes away the sins of the world.” In short, I was headed to where the spiritual epicenter of all human history would be celebrated that morning.
So what did I do? I pulled a U-turn and headed to the grocery store instead. The forecast said that it was going to be in the 100s by noon, so I decided that we urgently needed some popsicles for the beach (We were still going to the beach!), and Gatorade for the soccer game in Lexington. Looking back, I have to laugh. I chose to purchase popsicles and Gatorade over partaking of the Eucharist? How absurd!
Now, I know it’s not realistic for me, nor for most busy parents, to get to Mass every day, but if I can routinely schedule things like orthodontic appointments at 7 a.m. and driving to soccer games during rush hour traffic, then why not recurrent daily mass? Really, why not?
Minute Man National Park is still one among the many, equally awesome historical sites I want to visit, but here is where my parallel experiences of getting there and getting to daily Mass break down. Being in communion with God is not just one among many equal things to which I should aspire. Regular communion with God, whether it be at Mass or during a set time of prayer at home, should to be the spiritual epicenter of my entire earthly existence. If I could get this straight, no turning left, right, or making a U-turn from it, is it possible that the shot of grace I would receive could reignite my spiritual life and perhaps even fan worldwide flames of spiritual renewal? I know. I know. It’s an absurd and grandiose thought. Right up there with a rag tag group of Minutemen thinking they could defeat the entire British Empire.