The home we recently moved into has a gate in the driveway. I see more and more of those these days and, though it is very new for me, I understand it is meant to provide security. Gates are like locks I suppose: if someone is determined to break in, they still will do it, but it will take them a little longer and perhaps it deters those less determined. The appearance of the gate is more substantial than the reality.
More than making me feel more secure in my home, the gate has had another fairly significant effect on me. I have to stop in my car and wait for about ten seconds while it opens. At first that was very frustrating. Here I am sitting in the driveway, ready to proceed into the world or into my own yard, and I have to wait for the gate ever so slowly to open so that I may pass through.
Slowly, though, I am learning to embrace those ten seconds as an enforced pause in my life. Often my home is a safe place that is very different from my work world where crises and trauma abound. I am finding that sitting in the driveway and waiting for ten seconds is helping me be aware of what I am about to face as I leave home and head into the world. It is helping me realize that, while God calls me to be faithful to the various crises I face, I do not face them alone. Further, those crises are often the places where I find God’s presence in increased measure. As I sit and wait for permission to pass, a deep breath of preparation is being met with an assuring voice: “I am not only here in the safety; I am there in whatever pain you encounter.”
Then there is the return home and, again, another enforced pause. I’m ready to get home but it’s not quite time. There are ten more seconds to sit and wait for passage. And, again, a brief time to consider what I have dealt with and what I may deal with once inside. Yes there is safety here and nurture, but our homes and families are places of perhaps the bigger challenges we face. People we live with and love are growing and changing all the time. They are experiencing pain and suffering. And they are so important to us that our dealings with them can be even harder than our dealings with people outside the family. We go through a lot together as families and have so much riding on the relationships. A little time to pause and prepare for entry into that world is a blessing as well.
The pause at the gate is a time of prayer if I will allow it. I am pretty good at beginning my day in prayer and reflection but I am finding the extra ten seconds built twice into my days is helping me understand that God is accompanying me as I go out and return. He is in the peace and calm I experience at home and in the world. He is in the pain and challenge I experience in the world and at home. He is not something I carry with me so much as I am someone he is carrying with him.
Pause as you move about in the world and at home, gate or no gate. Consider God’s grace which holds you close and enables you to live among his many children.
Robert C. Wisnewski, Jr.