Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Are you the white rabbit?

Currently GG wants to read her "Alice" book everyday on the way to school. So much so that by now she has the thing memorized. She knows the name of all the cats in the story (Dinah, Cheshire) and she also knows what the white rabbit says. "I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date!"

With the start of school I had several Facebook friends who lamented the return of school zones as part of their commute. The inevitable slow downs or pedestrian (20 mph or less) speeds they were expected to drive. The need to put down their cell phone or risk a ticket. Some of these are folks without kids largely. So I kinda understand. They don't get yet how important it is to be aware and watch for children and adults who are busy carrying supplies and backpacks. How challenging it can be to get everyone wrangled and how quickly a child can step just 2 feet into the street.

I see this also on my commute from the school to church. Largely I drive on surface streets, many of which are residential. Yet people, often those who even live in the neighborhood, drive these as if they were superhighways. Annoyed by the speed bumps the city had to install to keep speeds somewhat reasonable. Obviously we are all late for important dates.

So I get that, a lack of understanding. Yet the last couple mornings I have noticed a distinct phenomenon both at my kids elementary school and also at our pre-school. When parents have their kids in their car, when they are waiting in line to drop off or to park, they are often deliberate and slow in their driving.

However, the minute the kid is out of the car or they get back in from dropping off, they accelerate quickly and take off. Often times failing to notice others who are getting out of vehicles or dropping off their children. They behave just like many others on the road. Unaware and seemingly unconcerned with others.

Why is this? Well, frankly I go theological of course. It is sin. Sin that focuses us on our family and our needs when it is in front of us. But once that responsibility is done we fail to notice the needs of those around us. We are entrapped by our own desires and fail to think about the neighbor around us.

This happens in many and various ways in our society. It is what Luther referred to in his lectures on Romans as the "Incurvatus in se." The life lived for self rather than God. We focus on our children and our schedule. We fail to notice or pay attention and live a life for God. And this happens to parents as well as non-parents. The moment our children are safely in their school, we become just as unaware as so many others. This is not living our lives for God.

How do we live a life for God? By serving our neighbor. By thinking of their needs first. And an easy way to start this is by driving carefully. Slowing down not just in school zones but on neighborhood streets and even on the highways (the speed limit in town is often 55 or 60, not 80!).

So be aware. I know you are late for a very important date. But please. Slow down.

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