Today’s Prayer to Passage will be from the book ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values’ by Robert M. Pirsig
Today I pray, “Dear God, When we venture to find something of ourselves that was once deemed unattainable, now conceivable — even if fortuitous — we honor the wise virtue called patience. What can patience bring us if we are willing to wait it out? Amen.”
Following my prayer, I held the closed book in my hands and opened it to this passage:
“It was some years ago that my wife and I and our friends first began to catch on to these roads. We took them once in a while for variety or for a shortcut to another main highway, and each time the scenery was grand and we left the road with a feeling of relaxation and enjoyment. We did this time after time before realizing what should have been obvious: these roads are truly different from the main ones. The whole pace of life and personality of the people who live along them are different. They’re not going anywhere.”
—ROBERT M. PIRSIG
In much the same way that we anticipate retirement or any “destination point” in life, we are welcomed to notice our arrival results available in the present moment. If we notice life to be better on a path that does not seem to us presently ours, we may simply change paths. Or not. We choose. We create. Even if only in prayer. That is a start!
I’ll share a short essay that my father shared with me when I was in high school. It is titled ‘The Station’, written by Robert J. Hastings.
By Robert J. Hastings
TUCKED AWAY in our subconscious minds is an idyllic vision. We see ourselves on a long, long trip that almost spans the continent. We’re traveling by passenger train, and out the windows we drink in the passing scene of cars on nearby highways, of children waving at a crossing, of cattle grazing on a distant hillside, of smoke pouring from a power plant, of row upon row of corn and wheat, of flatlands and valleys, of mountains and rolling hillsides, of city skylines and village halls, of biting winter and blazing summer and cavorting spring and docile fall.
But uppermost in our minds is the final destination. On a certain day at a certain hour we will pull into the station. There will be bands playing and flags waving. And once we get there so many wonderful dreams will come true. So many wishes will be fulfilled and so many pieces of our lives finally will be neatly fitted together like a completed jigsaw puzzle. How restlessly we pace the aisles, damming the minutes for loitering, waiting, waiting, waiting for the station.
However, sooner or later we must realize there is no one station, no one place to arrive at once and for all. The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly outdistances us.
“When we get to the station that will be it!” we cry. Translated it means, “When I’m 18 that will be it! When I buy a new 450 SL Mercedes Benz, that will be it! When I put the last kid through college that will be it! When I have paid off the mortgage that will be it! When I win a promotion that will be it! When I reach the age of retirement that will be it! I shall live happily ever after!”
Unfortunately, once we get “it,” then “it” disappears. The station somehow hides itself at the end of an endless track.
“Relish the moment” is a good motto, especially when coupled with Psalm 118:24: “This is the day which the Lord hath made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.” It isn’t the burdens of today that drive men mad. Rather, it is regret over yesterday or fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twin thieves who would rob us of today.
So, stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, climb more mountains, eat more ice cream, go barefoot more often, swim more rivers, watch more sunsets, laugh more and cry less. Life must be lived as we go along. The station will come soon enough.
(This version of “The Station” made its first debut in Ann Landers’ Column on May 17, 1981.)
“Dear Ann Landers: I wrote a little essay that appeared in the Illinois Baptist and I am sending it to you with permission to share it with your readers if you wish.” Robert J. Hastings, Editor.
“Dear Robert Hastings: It’s a beauty. Thank you for sending it on.” Ann Landers.