Thursday, April 10, 2008

Getting back on track!

Sacramento (April 10) Yesterday, it finally happened. The moment I had been dreading for weeks, even months now. A fellow friar came up to me and with a friendly tap on the back asked, “So, Brother, is your vocations blogspot dead now? I haven’t seen anything new in a long time.”
Grief, shame, embarrassment all rushed to my face at once. Busted!

Well, Brothers, it’s like this. Advent turned into Christmas which led to flu season, then Lent and Holy Week. And of course, there’s no way to get anything done just after Easter. Well, never mind… I think you get the picture.

The truth is, when it comes to this little blog site, I’ve gotten off track. And I’m sorry about that. So. Now’s the time to end the derailment and start over again. So here goes.

Speaking of “tracks”, one of my favorite ways to get back on track spiritually is literally to take to the tracks. The city where I live, Sacramento, has a wonderful commuter train, the Capitol Corridor, run jointly by Amtrak and Caltrans, the California state department of transportation. For exactly thirteen dollars and ten cents (discounted fare), you can take to the rails in perfect comfort— breezing majestically alongside the interstate and down to the Bay Area, just 80 miles and a bit less than two hours away. Okay, so it’s not a bullet train. But it gets you there.

What I like about the Capitol Corridor is everything. It’s double-decker, air-conditioned, quiet, and carpeted. Sort of like a terrestrial Boeing 707, only better. There’s wi-fi service and outlets for your laptop. And, if you grab a morning train, you get a free daily newspaper. Oh, and there’s a cafĂ© car when you can order drinks and snacks. And for us bicycle aficionados, there’s a bike rack in every car.

But you wanna know the truth? Mostly I really love the peace and quiet. When the world is too much with me, I try to take off on Amtrak, even if it's only for a day trip. Outside of commuting hours, there's plenty of room. And as we begin to pull out from the station, I start to disconnect. It’s wonderful! This little choo-choo train then becomes my private rolling chapel. Really. I can sit back and savor the kind of scenery which you will never ever see from the freeway— the lost and hidden California of a century ago— as rice fields yield to rolling hills that in turn lean into the sparkling waters of the San Francisco Bay. And as some of the craziness of our modern, urban world recedes, God’s world starts to come into better focus.

And I can begin to rest. And reach back into prayer. And the trust that God is present, is guiding us, is healing us, is restoring and renewing us. Whenever and ever we’re willing to get back on track.

I hope you’ve found your place and space to get back on track as well. We all need it. Especially if you’re in the process of vocational discernment, taking the time to realize that we are “human beings”, not just “humans doing” helps to ease and restore both mind and heart. In that way, one can begin to listen more carefully, more deeply, and even more confidently for God’s voice.

So. I’m back. Stay tuned. Next week I’ll be putting up a new entry, with news and views about Franciscan life. Promise. In the meantime, enjoy the ride. And God be with you. Fr. Chuck

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