23 September 2010

The Theological Implications of Rollercoasters

We all know the familiar feeling, gut-wrenching or exciting or maybe both: when we get into the little car (or heaven help me, sit on a bench and let our legs dangle!) and get strapped in, waiting for what seems an eternity until there's that lurch and off we go. Up, up, up the hill that looked so manageable when standing in line, but that looks so amazingly huge now... then that suspended moment of EEEK! as we crest the hill... then AAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!! as we go flying down the other side, possibly into a dark tunnel, or around a steep curve. Some hang on for dear life with their eyes closed. Others wave their hands in the air and scream in release, looking around to catch every fast-flying moment. Few of them are longer than five minutes, and nowadays they are so well-engineered that there are few bumps unless they're intended.

Sometimes... sometimes life is like that. :) Sometimes one's walk of faith feels the same way--only it seldom lasts for a puny five minutes. Today, as the last hours of summer wane toward the Autumnal equinox (tonight at 11:09 PM in the Eastern US time zone where I live), I find myself on the brink of changes and pondering the theological implications of living life on a rollercoaster in the fast lane.

This year has been difficult, and not just on me. Much has gone on in many places. We have but to open a newspaper or log on to a news site to see how busy everything has been. Natural disasters, military actions, mine collapses, oil rig explosions... political upheaval at home and abroad, and OH so much fear. It seems everyone with whom I've spoken feels exhausted already, as we lean toward my favourite month of October. We still have three whole months to go--with the ever-busy season of Thanksgiving, Advent, Hanukkah, Islamic New Year, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and the whole end of the calendar year Silvester/Western New Year thing to get to, the time when traditionally few of us have time to breathe, much less sit in holy silence for the good of our spirits. Eeeeek, indeed!

I won't go into the long, gory, sad story of my own summer; I'm just glad it's coming to an end soon. I've come down the big hill, we're well into the steep turn, there's a dark tunnel at the end there but I can see the light coming. Soon the car will come back to the starting point and I can get off this ride, wobbly-legged (literally, for part of my summer has involved an unpleasant leg injury!) and glad to be on solid ground. I know some of you out there probably have had astonishing summers as well, and may well have a busy holiday season coming up on you as I do. So here's a thought or two:

1) Do you LIKE rollercoasters? Then fit some more of them in between now and the end of the calendar year. Adrenaline is good for you sometimes, and we can all use the occasional shaking up. Plus, this sort of thing can be fun when you're in the right frame of mind.

2) Do you NOT like rollercoasters? This is my category... :) I prefer to know things, I'm not good at surprises or heights with long, fast drops, but real life doesn't always work that way. If you don't like them, try to think of it as a moment for faith. *grin* Sit down, strap in, hold on, and try to enjoy the ride... there just might be a message for you somewhere.

3) If (like me) you don't do well with surprises, try not to let that make you crazy. I did, and am a bit annoyed with myself for wasting the effort this summer. I'm going to attempt in future to see the surprises, the rollercoasters, the big drops and the huge rushes, as places where I need to take notice of what's going on with myself spiritually, and see if maybe, just maybe, I can stop screaming long enough to hear the message Spirit has for me. :)

Yes, life will continue to rocket around big curves, steep hills, dark tunnels and the like. But the Lord of Heaven is there in the car with us, holding on to us as we hold on to the supports, letting us know it will eventually be all right. Even the worst situation eventually ends, and healing doesn't have to wait until the car stops in order to begin.

Know that if you've had a rough summer or even a whole rough year, or if several years have ganged up on you and you're about to go flat to the floor because of it, someone somewhere is praying for you. And as for praying for yourself? Do it. Even if the only prayer you have the strength to utter is a soft, sad "Help?" at the end of a difficult day, believe that it is heard. Believe it will be acted upon.

Now step out of that rollercoaster car with me; let's stagger out of here and get a frozen lemonade and a fresh-baked pretzel. :)

Happy Autumn, everyone!


Sharon said...

(((HUGS))) for now and for when you can finally get off the wild ride. I can't ride roller-coaster rides any more, but life regularly serves up enough of the same sensations that I don't really miss them. I'll spring for the ice cream "DOTS" after the lemonade and pretzels!

Rev. Sharon said...

You are SO totally on for those Dots, my name-sister! :) And I hear you about those sensations. I won't willingly get on any rollercoaster any more, and didn't much like them when I was part of the 'target audience', as it were... like yourself, I get more than enough of it from life too. :) So where's the ice cream stand?