By Ted Furlow
Having a travel trailer has been a challenging life changer for Terri and me. We have discovered that one of the challenges of trailering on the road is finding a way to keep a normal life going.
RVing hither and thither is life lived in a changing rhythm, a vacation mindset, and it takes effort to not let important things slip. There’s lots to keep up with, bills to pay, bank accounts to track, supplies to buy, budgets to keep, places to go, and people to see. Who knew having fun could be so much work?
What is true on the road is true elsewhere. As we move along the continuum of life it constantly changes, and our rhythm of living also changes. Jobs come and go, our roles ebb and flow, children are born and leave, people live and die, wisdom is found or lost, and faith is embraced or ignored. Amid these rhythms of living, we must daily choose if change is something we are attentive to or overwhelmed by.
For example, the Cruise Director and I have taken our trailer on the road for over 80 days since May, and we have discovered that if we are not attentive to our relationship with God, we won’t have one. On the last leg of our “Summer in Oregon” - that lasted into mid-October - we were a month on the road. Now, Oregon and California are beautiful states, and the sweeping vistas of mountains, lakes, rivers and woods are the stuff of an aesthetic intimacy with God. But as wonderful as it is to marvel at God’s hand in nature, it is no substitute to prayer and worship. We cannot let our faith become a spectator sport. We are believers not bystanders, and there is no vacation from seeking God in our life just because we are in a different place, operating in a changing rhythm… and wow, isn’t the view great!
When we travel, it is our practice to get off the road in the early afternoon, especially on a Saturday. Once we set up the trailer, we get on-line to find the local church. We check the Mass schedule, and try to get to the Saturday vigil service, or an early Mass on Sunday. In doing so, we have not only kept touch with our faith, but we have enjoyed a variety of small parishes, welcoming communities, and made new friends by simply being attentive to our need to pray, our hunger for the Eucharist, and the sharing of our common humanity in communion with others… even total strangers.
And there is more … on this trip, I was reading Richard Rohr, Terri was reading a great daily devotional, “Jesus Calling,” by Sarah Young, and we were both sharing Matthew Kelly’s, “Rediscover Jesus.” Our daily prayer started each day over coffee and tea by reading a chapter of “Rediscover Jesus,” and then seeing where Rohr and Young fit into Kelly’s thoughts. Sometimes we would talk for 15 to 20 minutes, and sometimes we wouldn’t stop until it was lunch. Putting the common sense of Kelly in conversation with the theology of Rohr, and the spirituality of Young was thought provoking and insightful.
As we continued our travelling trailer dialogue it was clear to us that there was a third party at our table. These morning discussions were not just helping us to know more “about” God, they were helping us to “know” God. Each day we spent in our prayer/discussion was not just an act of daily holiness, but something that gave us daily wholeness. Those moments enriched and renewed our personal relationship with God; a God we actively claim in our life, and not just watch from a detached distance.
In the contradictions of the changing rhythms of our lives, we should always seek holiness and wholeness.
Ted Furlow is a retired former Director of Pastoral Planning for the Diocese of San Bernardino and continues in marriage preparation ministry in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.