Some years ago I took my eldest daughter to look at a prospective university. It was in a medium sized city largely unknown to us. We had no satellite navigation and an ordinary country map to guide us but signs to the university were clear and we still arrived in good time. Everything went according to plan , and included a nice selection of free biscuits with tea. Going home should be no problem then, so we settled into the car with that pleasant sense of a job well done and started on our journey.
We got to some ring road looking for the sign for a familiar town and cruised on as the heavens opened and the wipers worked frantically to keep the windscreen clear. Light was fading and visibility was not all it could have been. My daughter had the map on her lap and I told her to look out for signs to our exit as I concentrated on driving the car safely on the road, which had now become very busy with rush hour traffic. Suddenly her voice pipped up. “There’s Macdonalds” she said, This was true but not necessarily helpful in the circumstances. I turned to look at her and she was smiling happily and looking around her enjoying all the new sights available. It dawned on me that map reading was not necessarily one of her strengths. The rain and spray were making progress difficult and we seemed to be going on and on while I looked for some guidance as to the route we should take. After a prolonged period of driving with an increasing sense of confusion, my daughter said, “There’s MacDonalds again” , and I realised we were already on our second lap of the road with plenty more laps available, depending on the state of the fuel tank. It seemed as though our journey would never end and just keeping the car out of harms way was all I could do in the circumstances ,Eventually , however, we found a sign to a familiar landmark and made our escape unscathed from this period of total confusion.
Ever since the dawn of time one generation has looked at the next shaking their heads and complaining about falling standards, lack of concern and the new anarchy which is threatening the world order as we see it. The Romans said it and now we say it but the world is still here despite all our misgivings. When we are young, if we are lucky, we think we will meet the perfect man or women, find a job which expresses us and be discovered for being the beautiful gifted person that we are. Following a few disasters, wrong choices of mate and other hiccups which obscure our sense of the future we become increasingly baffled about the meaning and order of life. For some of us God still exists as the central unchanging focus but for many even this has been called into question leaving us driving in the middle of nowhere without a map.
Naturally, when your lost you ask someone else for direction, but in the course of the conversation you gradually realise that they don’t know where they are either leaving you more bewildered rather than less. Once more we are driving round this ring road with a developing sense of unease, looking for some sign or guidance as to the route we should follow. One of the things I do know is, that if your lost don’t bother to ask me for direction because there is no one worse at giving them than myself, but somehow I have learned that not knowing were you are and discovering whats round the corner is half the fun of life. Sharing that experience with people you love is the other half. . Heavens, there’s Macdonalds again.