IN THE DRIVING SEAT (Or: Mastering the Mystery)

I do so like to drive,’ she lets me know,
all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed
and in control.
The steering wheel she holds
infuses her whole being with
a certain sense of purpose.
Yes, that is it! That helps me understand
her growth in confidence
since I last visited four months ago.
Then she was a student … still …
though graduate with M.A. in French,
wrestling here with the complex mysteries
of the apocalyptic visions of St. John,
and reluctantly translating
my English Bible lectures
into her Polish mother tongue.
Now college manager,
my ‘interrupter’ for these next two weeks,
and my taxi-driver as-and-when.
‘Driven’ would more adequately describe
her immediate overseer –
that is not her style –
not driven, but ‘in control’,
in control here of this van now driven by methane gas.

What, then, drives the sons of God?
‘The love of God’, Paul testifies,’
‘leaves us with no choice,
compels us, holding us together.’

If like the methane gas
the Spirit of God energises us,
who, then, is in control?

He who exercises no rule
over his own spirit
has breached the integrity
of his own ego-boundaries
and burst asunder the defences
of the citadel of his soul.

My chauffeuse in this Ford van,
by hands and feet dictates
the details of its course:
busy hands adjust its mirrors,
interior heat and sound,
windows, wipers, gears and signals;
steady feet regulate the engine’s speed,
relate it to the wheels
that grip the road;
but these members in their turn
subserve the intentions
of the mind and will;
motor nerve reflexes of the driver’s body
by now, through practice trained,
co-ordinate with neurons of the brain,
supplied by the pumping heart
with life-sustaining oxygen
from the bellows of the lungs;
eyes scan the road ahead
and check the traffic flow
alongside and behind –
indeed, a whole community of faculties
in which each part plays its part,
driven, streamlined by a purpose.

With that same intense intent
she has determined to excel
in understanding
and communicating
the rich varieties of verbal options
that the English language has acquired –
driven as interpreter
to stay in calm control;
yet glad when she can sense any
sudden shift in emphasis
in the driving currents of the Spirit
as of river or of sea that bears along
this merchant vessel
in delivering his message
from the vibrant Word of God.
A ship’s master surely is so called
because he has trained himself
to gain a mastery
of the water’s mystery.

Hugh Thompson (17 September 1999)

This entry was posted in In Honour of my Interpreters. Bookmark the permalink.