Not long before my elderly father died in July we took him for ride in the beautiful countryside around Stonor Park. To help me find my way around the network of narrow lanes I was using my “satnav”. When this disembodied voice said “In 100 yards turn left” he was bemused. I explained to him that a process of triangulation using several satellites orbiting the earth was able to pinpoint where we were to an accuracy of about 3 yards and the rest was a detailed map of the whole of Europe stored in the memory of the device. Then there was the processor working out the best way to get to my destination. He quietly remarked, “I don’t belong on this planet anymore”.
Dad was a navigator in the Fleet Air Arm during WW2. He had a map and compass and had to use any visual clues he could get to determine where they were. During the Normandy landings he was flying patrols from the Hook of Holland down to Cherbourg, looking for enemy movements. On one occasion they emerged from cloud to find that they had overshot Cherbourg and were flying over Alderney, which was under German occupation. The defence forces fired everything they had at this one small plane. “I’m glad they missed” said I. They didn’t. A shell had penetrated the engine cowling and missed by millimetres vital wiring that would have stopped the engine and brought them down. A narrow escape from a situation caused by a small error of navigation.
Mankind since his earliest beginnings has been wandering around on the earth, as Shakespeare put it, like actors on a stage, but the problem is that the script seems to have been lost and no-one seems to know the plot or even if there is a plot at all. We are born, have some sort of adventure of life then die, says the bard. The only purpose seems to be to reproduce and perpetuate the species for as long as possible. As Dad said in his last few weeks “Theykeep giving me pills to keep me alive so that I can take more pills”. Suddenly into the darkness and pointlessness of it all 2000 years ago Jesus, the Son of God and of Man, came to us and said “I am the way, follow me”. Life was not terminal and pointless after all. There is meaning, there is eternal life.
On holiday in Devon recently we were going down one of those very narrow lanes, wing mirrors touching the high walls on both sides when “Lilly” (the voice of satnav) says “If possible do a U Turn”. We burst into laughter at the ridiculous suggestion, but that was what was necessary to get to our destination. Unlike on that Devon road if you want to find The Way it is possible to do a U Turn and start going in the right direction. Happy Christmas!
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