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Reaching your destination


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I’m not a particularly nervous driver, and I don’t have any real aversion to traveling long distances or to unfamiliar places. But I have to admit that I do like to know where I am, where I’m going, and have some idea of how to get there. I remember just getting in the car and driving to Gettysburg, Pa. several years ago without a map or an actual set of directions. But I knew the places we would pass through on the way, and simply followed the signs from one to the next.

For local -- and even not-so-local jaunts -- Internet driving directions have served me relatively well. But there are a few places I just don’t like to go. It’s usually because no matter how many times I make the trip, I just can’t figure out where things are in relation to one another. The South Shore, for example, is mostly a mystery to me, as are sections of Lynn. I have been to Roslindale many times, but I still can’t picture where it is with respect to parts of the city that are more familiar to me. There are roads I don’t particularly like to take, too. Mostly, they seem to end with the word “way,” like the Fenway, the Riverway, the Jamaica Way, the Arborway, and the Mystic Valley Parkway. Whenever I get a set of directions that includes one of those routes, I break out into a cold sweat.

All that is why I hoped for, and asked for, a GPS system for Christmas. I have to say that the technology of “Mom-Mom” (as we affectionately refer to it), astounds me. It is amazing that I can turn on a little box the size of my hand, punch in a street address practically anywhere in North America, and have a guide to get me there.

“Mandy”--the voice I chose--‘‘knows” not only where I am, but where I’m going. There is no question of driving in circles or going nowhere fast. “Mandy” not only shows me the route, but displays on the screen where I am along it, and how far it is until the next turn. As I approach an intersection or exit, “she” calmly announces what I need to do just before I need to do it. If I miss a turn, “Mandy” doesn’t yell at me, but merely recalculates my route. Sometimes it involves turning around, but often it just means taking a different exit and arriving a minute or two later. I don’t have to worry about running out of fuel, because the screen shows me where all the gas stations are along the way. If I don’t like the first set of directions, I can ask for an alternative route. The other day I went to places I had never been in West Roxbury, Lynn, and Lawrence. All I had to do was trust what I heard from Mom-Mom, and follow it.

As strange as it may sound, I’ve found driving with Mom-Mom very much like following the will of God in my life. I can preview the route if I want to, but the truth is I don’t really need to know every turn in advance. In fact, if the area is unfamiliar, it’s better if I just keep listening along the way, and do what I’m told when I’m told to do it. I’ve learned that I don’t really need to plan or direct what I do professionally. I only need to be open to the work that is in front of me. For example, I would never have planned to work in a parish. But when the position I hold now at St. Maria Goretti’s presented itself, it was very much like a voice telling me to “turn right.” As I grow and evolve in that position, I recognize that I am still traveling.

Once I’ve chosen an ultimate destination, I can begin to let go of the route. After all, how I get there and where I stop along the way aren’t nearly as important as where I end up. If I miss a turn or decide to take another road, it isn’t the end of the world. My life’s direction can be recalculated. I may have to turn around or take a bit more time, but few decisions end the journey altogether.

As the psalmist prayed; “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” You don’t see down the pike with light like that, only the next step in front of you, and only well enough to be able to take it in faith. If I can’t trust a GPS system, it won’t work for me. If there is something that keeps me from trusting God in faith, I may never complete my journey. But with heaven as my destination, and a God who wants to guide my every turn, all I really need is trust.

Jaymie Stuart Wolfe is a wife and mother of eight children, and a disciple of the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales. She is an author, speaker, musician and serves as Faith Formation Coordinator at St. Maria Goretti Parish in Lynnfield.

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