If you are ever going to get a flat tyre, the Chatham Islands is without doubt the best place. Perhaps it was the fact that the locals saw their priest kneeling beside his car this morning that led to their help, and within a minute three people had stopped to take over the task. Just as we were finishing a fourth person also stopped to help. For me it was a great example of the wrong thing (flat tyre), happening at the right place (Chatham Islands) at the right time (9am Friday morning as people were travelling past).
My problem of course is that very often I am faced with what I think is the wrong thing happening at the wrong time in the wrong place, or perhaps the right thing at the wrong time or the right place but the wrong time….you know what I mean. While I might be able to savour the grace of a moment when everything happens in a wonderfully convenient way, I forget that God is no less at work in the moments that seem devoid of anything “right.”
But it is these difficult or problematic moments that are the real moments of potential growth towards maturity for the Christian. I have no doubt that I am more aware of this fact this morning because of a grace-filled Skype conversation with three friends last night. In preparation for our conversation last night we had read a section of a spiritual classic by Luigi Giussani, Why the Church? One of the passages that has stayed with me is:
“Life, then, is a series of problems, its fabric made up of reactions to encounters that are provocative to a greater or lesser extent. A problem is nothing other than the dynamic expression of a reaction in the face of these encounters. Discovering the meaning of life – or the most pertinent and important things in life – is a goal which is possible only for the individual who is involved with life seriously, its events, encounters, and problems” (p. 33).
When I live in conscious relationship with Christ, a problem, even the unwanted flat tyre, is more of an opportunity than it is a problem.