It was almost 4 years ago that our eldest son, Joe, drove his car to his aunt’s house, to store it, while he left to teach English in Japan for at least one year. That year led to another, and another, and another. He has been gone almost 4 years. And he expects a fifth year in the program. The car has sat there unused. Knowing he wants to have a drivable car on his return in another year or two we decided it was past time to check out the car. I got our friend and consulting mechanic, Carol, to take a road trip and she checked it out.
I wanted to replace the battery, get in and immediately try to start it. Instead Carol methodically checked spark plugs, air filter, hoses and belts. She lubricated the throttle linkages and sprayed in starter fluid. It was only after a lot of preliminary work that the moment of truth came. I turned the key the car sprang to life with only a cloud of smoke betraying how long it had been since it was driven. As it idled she listened for engine problems.
She told me to put it in gear. There we discovered a problem. The clutch would not disengage in order to shift the gears. As much as we worked with it we still were not able to shift. Carol thinks a part of the clutch mechanism has rusted from the years of sitting without being used. So we will end up towing it and getting it repaired before it hits the road again.
So why do I write about car parts in Holy Week? Our spiritual life is not unlike a car – a complex set of interconnected parts. In order for us to grow and progress we need to use these parts regularly to keep them working and well oiled. When we neglect these parts of our life they can become rusted and stuck.
If we do not have spiritual practices (prayer, reading, quiet, reflection, etc.) we become like that car with lots of potential as well as lots of places where it can falter and not work when needed.
Attending church on Christmas and Easter is not a bad thing but is it enough to sustain us for a year’s worth of living? When a problem or crisis hits and you want to start up your faith to help get you through – like Joe’s car you may not be able to get your spiritual life in gear to assist you.
Preventive maintenance works for cars and it works for us as well. Get on a schedule that gives your spiritual life care and attention regularly. It will help get your life in gear.