The commute to my college is only thirty-five minutes, unless, of course, you’re going for class at 8:00 in the morning. Then the drive turns out to be more like an hour and a bit.
I’m convinced traffic could be used as a form of torture. There’s just something about knowing that you’re sandwiched between an endless amount of cars — you’re really not going anywhere. I think I mostly dislike the feeling of being stuck.
So this morning it was just me and the pink sky and twenty-seven thousand red brake lights. I have sixty precious minutes in my car before I arrive on campus, and instead of getting frustrated by the feeling of my foot constantly hitting the brakes, today I started thinking, “What could happen if I didn’t waste this time?”
What can you do in an hour?
Easy. There’s a lot I can accomplish. Give me sixty minutes and I can watch a show on Netflix, or finish a piece of art on canvas, or spin with my nephew in the kitchen and listen to his laugh. I could get a decent way through a book, or have coffee with a friend, or bake a load of nachos.
But this morning I took my hour and I had church.
I am a firm believer in church — the Sunday kind — of gathering with people and drinking coffee and telling one another about your week, and in the quiet, tender moments of worship, while holding your hands out and giving your whole self away.
But this morning, I had church too.
I was terrified to go to college. Beginnings are scary, aren’t they? And more and more, I’m becoming certain that bravery disguises itself as nausea.
This morning, I got into my car long before the sun had awoken. I brought my coffee and my bagel and I turned some music on, allowing the words to settle inside of my heart.
Make me soft, I said to Jesus. Make me vulnerable. Make me fully dependent on You.
Those were three phrases I’d never uttered before. But the traffic was at a dead stop, and the sun was rising, the sky all peachy pink and streaky — a mix of acrylic and watercolor, the prettiest painting I’d ever seen.
I felt small and scared and brave, all at the same time. I was praying and I was singing, and I was having church, right there in my small Mazda 3, right there in the middle of early morning rush-hour traffic.
In an hour, I could be doing a hundred different things. But for the next few months, I’ll have those sixty minutes alone in my car alongside the other innumerable brake lights.
And I think I’ll keep on having church.