I spend a bit of time travelling in my job, sometimes within Tasmania, and sometimes beyond.
One of my regular trips takes me down to Hobart, and whenever the opportunity is there I like to take the road less travelled. The delightfully named “Mud Walls Road” takes a left somewhere down past Oatlands and leads through the Coal Valley into Richmond.
Maybe I like the road because it twists and turns and is an enjoyable drive.
Maybe because the scenery is interesting.
Maybe because the Richmond Bakery is in that direction.
I can’t confirm or deny.
But the road itself is rough. Particularly the top end is long, long overdue for serious work, is filled with potholes, bumps and ruts that keep your attention and have resulted in a lower speed limit to improve driver safety.
It’s filled with the kinds of bumps you see coming (mostly). Mostly they’re avoidable, or at least you can brace yourself for the impact or slow down to minimise the consequences.
And cars have clever suspension, with springs and shock absorbers designed to absorb the worse of the vagaries of the Mud Walls Road without passing on the damage to the vehicle or its occupants.
Bumps we can see are like that.
Last night I was on another regular trip, the 8.40pm VB flight from Melbourne to Launceston. We were coming up out of Melbourne airport, the crew were preparing the food trolley for the very quick service offered on this short flight. I think I was on the edge of sleep after a long day.
All of sudden it was like the plane hit a jagged pothole, dropped and bounced.
There were little gasps all around, a few nervous jokes about bumps in the night as hands reached to tighten seatbelts.
The crew locked away the trolley, sat down and harnessed in.
And we bounced and rocked away the night until somewhere out over Bass Strait when things settled down.
This was the kind of bump we don’t see coming.
The kind that catches us unawares, bounces us out of a state of stillness, unsettles us because it’s beyond our control.
And the kind that leaves us a little nervous about what else might come next, what other bumps that we can’t see might be lurking out there.
Life is like that isn’t it? Sometimes in church, sometimes in family, sometimes at work. Sometimes on a plane.
We have to deal with the bumps we can see, and the ones we can’t.
And what can we do about it?
Aircraft are designed to cope with turbulence like this. Wings made of steel have an astonishing capacity to flex and twist, absorbing the gusts and hammer-blows of unseen turbulence and protecting their occupants from an even worse shake/rattle/roll scenario.
Like a car has suspension, like an aircraft can flex and twist, like a sea-going vessel is designed to cut through rough water, so we ought to find ways to build flexibility, resilience and suspension into our community, family or personal life.
Habits of prayer, of reflection, of hospitality and community that form bonds that are strong, but flexible.
Ways of being in relationship with one another that enable us to deal with bumps in the road (whether we see them coming or not) without getting all shaken and stirred.
What are your springs? Your keel? Your flexible wings? How do you cope with the bumps?