Last week I was driving to Maine up route 95 in a gusty wind storm. Generally I like to hold onto my steering wheel with one hand, usually just to the left or right of the bottom section of the wheel. Sometimes I hold on at the bottom but find there's not much control there. I noticed that when the wind began to gust and my car was being tossed a bit, I reflexively (is that a word?) moved my hands to good old 10:00 and 2:00. Driver's ed was not wasted on me! You really do get more control of the car with your hands there.
I noticed, too, that the car designers had made a move to encourage drivers to hold on to the wheel at those spots. On my steering wheel, those spots are thicker, with little contoured finger bumps that my hands fit into very comfortably. So, even though I grip the wheel in different spots, at different times, I do know that if I want to be doing it right, if I want to be in control, if I need to feel safer, I go back to the 10 and 2 grips.
It made me think about Church, and faith formation (natch). There is finally a lot of talk out there about the idea that Sacraments are not rewards to be earned but rather gifts, freely given. D Scott Miller, on his blog
( http://www.dscottmiller.com/blogcat/ym.htm look for "a mandatory rant"),
mentions that there is a big pow-wow going on with Bishops about how to remove the idea of "mandatory" from the Confirmation process. D Scott himself says that "Relying on the power of 'mandatory' is lazy ministry and not within the style of the One who washed the feet of his disciples." Amen, brother!
It's taken American Churches a long time to realize this truth (and we're not even close to seeing it really embraced by parish RE programs), but it's SUCH good news to see it even mentioned and noticed by Bishops. Hurray!
Maybe we, as Church, can take a tip from those car designers- instead of shackling the hands of our drivers, why don't we show them the comfort and benefit of coming home to 10 and 2? Let's let them experience the joy of Church, and know that it can be good enough to make them stay... rather than lock-stepping them through hoops and having no trust that what we have to offer is GOOD?
Andrew Greeley's phrase, that every program we offer should be "optional and excellent" rings through my head every day at work. You can't JUST make it optional, without making it excellent.
Who's ready? Let's go for a drive!!