Why I Find Peace in My SUV

It’s my makeshift chapel, my personal path to calm.

The distance between my house and the nearest Wal Mart is exactly two decades of the rosary. From my kids’ school to our home, is ten minutes of thankfulness. And in the hour it takes me to drive to visit my son in college, I can pray and still have a chance to simply enjoy the blessed silence.

Like most moms, I spend a lot of time in my car chauffeuring my kids to school and to various sports, social events and activities. Some days it feels like I spend more time in my SUV than I do at home.

This can be frustrating since there are so many other things on my to-do list. There’s the laundry, the cooking, the bills, the article I’m working on, the book I want to finish, the three dozen unread emails and something else…what was it?… Oh yeah! Becoming a saint!

Okay, at this point, I would settle for just becoming a little more charitable and patient and peaceful. But considering my inclination toward selfishness and my general tendency to want what I want when I want it, even that is going to take an act of God. Good thing I drive an SUV — a Santifying Utility Vehicle.

To sanctify means to set apart or to consecrate. My time in my SUV (at least some of it) has become time devoted to drawing nearer to God. And my kids’ busy schedules actually afford me a lot of this time set apart. Driving them all over creation gives me a chance to pray and silence for listening for the still, small voice of God.

I used to rend my garments and gnash my teeth at hours wasted sitting in my car waiting for ball practice or dance class to end or at the time it took away from my real work to drive my children to the countless places they need to go. But a couple of years ago when I gave up listening to my car radio for Lent, I realized that I have been given two wonderful gifts — the gift of time and the gift of silence.

This realization has been transformative. Mornings in the car have always been prayer time for the kids and me. No matter how hectic the morning, no matter who is crying, fighting, or still half asleep, our drive to school has always been our time to regroup and to lift our hearts and minds to God before going on with the rest of our day.

But when I realized that my SUV could serve as a makeshift chapel, not only for our short drive to school, but every time I leave my house, I began to see the countless hours of errand running and kid transporting, not so much as a burdensome chore, but as a path to peace.

Now running out to grab some groceries means a chance to immerse my family in God’s mercy through prayer. Sitting in the gym parking lot late at night, waiting for my daughter to return from her golf match, can be time for spiritual reading or silent meditation. Every stop light is a reminder to pray for peace. Every moment spent waiting in traffic is a reminder to pray for our friends and relatives — to fulfill those prayer requests that are so easy to forget. Every encounter with a careless driver is an opportunity to pray for patience.

Not only do I find that I have more time for prayer, I find that I am more patient, less frustrated. I drive more slowly, grip the steering wheel less tightly. My teeth have unclenched. And I feel that vague sense of urgency far less often.

Oh I still have a long, long way to go to sainthood — or even to an improved version of my imperfect self. But at least now I have one less roadblock to peace. I have found a better use for my time in the car, a better path to a better me. Mercifully, that path is one I was already driving many, many times a day.

Photo: Hon Kim/Unsplash