Well, at least one-in-five of us left happy. That would be my cousin’s son, Lucas, who watched his SIU Salukis put a whuppin’ on our SLU Billikens in Carbondale the other night.
Cousin David had proposed the two-hour road trip a few days before – and it sounded like a great idea: A chance to see SLU’s 6-1 men’s basketball team burnish its record with what we thought would surely be a “road win.” And we’d get to visit Lucas…in his college environs…to boot.
Alas, the boot happened to be on SIU’s foot that particular night…short-circuiting the satisfaction we had anticipated. Exiting campus, we drove off into the gloom of night – the darkness pretty much matching our mood as the two-lane highway took us across the otherwise featureless farm fields of southern Illinois.
But a funny thing happened, just north of Pinckneyville. All our grousing about the Bills’ lackluster play and the dispiriting loss began to give way to treasured memories.
You see, we’ve known each other – the four guys in the car – since long before we became SLU fans. We’ve known each other for 50+ years, in fact…and we’ve weathered many a mini-tempest (such as an unexpected SLU loss) along the way.
As the miles slipped by, and the stories continued to flow, it became increasingly clear that we weren’t just a bunch of old-guys-in-a-car. We are a people – a people blessed…blessed to find strength and solace and yes, perhaps even salvation, in a shared story…the rich and comforting fabric of our interwoven lives.
Heady stuff this, especially when found on a seemingly God-forsaken highway thirty miles from nowhere.
Advent stuff, I was reminded…as I reflected on the portion of Psalm 126 we pray during Mass on the second Sunday of this holy season:
Although they go forth weeping,
Carrying the seed to be sown,
They shall come back rejoicing,
Carrying their sheaves.
God is with us at every turn, it seems, if only we have eyes to see. Emmanuel, fulfilling the promise that “the winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and [that] all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”
Quite a consolation prize, I figure – even if our road trips into enemy territory don’t always turn out exactly the way we planned.
Come, Lord Jesus! Come!
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.