I attended a conference of sorts this weekend that was aimed at mothers with children. It was located in a city. And I, sweet reader, am a country dweller.
Cities make me nervous. My fear is founded. I have been lost and alone in both Chicago and Madrid, without a cell phone. Both times I was too nervous to eat. The feeling of being lost in an unfamiliar place is not a feeling I wish anyone to experience. And it does not get better with age. At least I now have Siri. Michael claims that the GPS makes the human race stupider. So be it. I will garnish my intelligence to feel the security that that little magical device provides.
In the country we have buildings with big wide parking lots all around them. In the city there are buildings with no places to park, except in another building – the dreaded dark, cold parking garage. The place where every Lifetime movie plot begins. Also, parking garages are made for Honda Civics and motorcycles. And this was a momference. We drive Suburbans, Yukons, Astro minivans and various crossovers. Also the occasional F-350 extended cab long bed. The spaces are only wide enough for the vehicle to slide into, and then you have to go out through the trunk because there isn’t a viable alternative.
Finally, I got my crossover parked. On the third attempt. And promptly realized I was lost again. I spun around so many times in the upward ascent to the roof of the garage that I had become disoriented. No fear, I thought. Siri knows where we are. So, I loaded up the directions and approached the elevator. The elevator was loaded with seasoned conference attenders – they were my people – and I promptly tried to turn Siri off so she wouldn’t embarrass me in front of the group of perfect strangers. In my hurry, I couldn’t figure out how to quiet her. Once you ask her to get you somewhere, she is committed. I finally shut my phone completely off, and followed my new friends to the conference.
Eleventy hours later, I exited the conference and was lost again. I had no idea where I parked…and there was no device to assist me! I had to rely on my faulty spatial memory.
Can I talk psychobabble for just 5 seconds?? The theory of multiple intelligence says that some people are good with words, some are good with music, some with art, some with dance, and some with seeing 3-D objects from multiple angles and orienting themselves accordingly. Let’s say, in a city, for example. I AM A WORDS PERSON. I was lost.
Providentially, I at least had trusted friends with me. They drove me to the parking garage, and I got to the top, where my car was not! I was in the wrong garage. Feeling very, very small in a big, big city, I had my friends drive me to the garage around the corner, where I at last located my car. After paying my NINE DOLLARS to the parking attendant, I started for home.
Immediately, Siri tripped me up. She told me to ‘head north’…. I only know left and right. I don’t know north which is WHY I AM USING YOU – SIRI!!! Oh – we got into it. She drove me in circles for 15 minutes. With the one way streets and no turn on reds. FINALLY, I was back on a familiar road. I was heading home. I knew the way. It was away from the crowded buildings and heavy traffic and along the highway with trees, fields, and neighborhood dwellings. It was familiar and comforting and the security resolved all the dissonance that had been created by being lost. I no longer had the anticipation of the next, as I settled in the present.
The most familiar hymn ever written includes the line, “I once was lost, but now am found.” It is the most familiar hymn for a reason. The writer, John Newton, knew the terrible unsettling feeling of being lost. And consequently the absolute security in being found. And it is a feeling that is as old as man and resonates with every man. And every mom. And every child and grandparent and everyone in between.
And the resolve that comes with being found is one that every person is created to experience.
Grace does that. Grace finds you. Grace makes you feel found. It makes you head home and turn north, even if you turn south first. To all who are unsettled, to all who are lost, I pray you experience grace our Savior provides. The found-ness. It is like no other. It is like heading to the country after a weekend in the city…only infinitely and definitely better than that.