Navigating the Road Ahead
When I was a boy, our family lived for several years in Guayaquil, Ecuador’s major port on the Pacific coast. Duty called my Dad to Quito, the capital, and he decided to make a family trip out of it. We would drive, an exciting prospect, because Quito, one of the world’s highest capital cities, lies in the Andes at over 9,300 feet. The road we took ran east through banana plantations, then started the long zigzag climb up the western slope of the range, passing through different ecological zones on the way: savanna, tropical woodland, rain forest, cloud forest, and finally above the tree line, across alpine tundra.
The views could be spectacular, but we were often in rain or fog, making the going dicey, since most of the uphill road was unpaved and the perpetual wet kept the road slick. It also made for lush greenery and beautiful flowers, and at one stage we spotted a beautiful white orchid dangling from a tree just off the road. We stopped and all got out to admire, but then noticed the car sliding sideways in the mud toward the ledge. A frantic family push got the car back centered on the road, but our hearts were beating and we were unsettled enough to stop at the next small filling station to ask about conditions up ahead. Our query was met with another, “What kind of a car do you have?“ the attendant asked. My father pointed to our late model American car, and the attendant said, “Oh, no problem. It’s a ‘pssst’ road,” and waved dismissively up the mountain.
A ‘pssst’ road, a road on which you could travel safely if you had the right equipment. Isn’t that often the way it is in life? It doesn’t matter so much about the challenges we face, as what we bring to them. Where do we get the spiritual strength to tackle the inevitable crises life brings? This is part of what we seek in Lent, a searching for inner strength. As our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry recently wrote, in times of concern and urgency, “people of faith have returned to ancient practices of repentance, prayer and fasting as ways of interceding with God.” That is good advice for each of us during this Lenten season.
Links to the appointed readings for today: