Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Of Race Car Drivers and Nuns

I think I had something of an epiphany this morning during my cardio session.  When I say "cardio", I usually mean walking rapidly uphill for 30 or 45 minutes on a treadmill.  The treadmills at my new gym have little TVs built into them.  Usually during a morning cardio session I can only find infomercials, but this morning was different.

This morning, one station was playing the magnificent film Le Mans (1971), starring Steve McQueen.  This kind of film always makes you work harder at the cardio, and it sure seems to make the time go by faster.

Everyone these days is talking about their "bucket lists".  You know, a list of things they want to do before they "kick the bucket".  As I watched this car go around the circuit, I realized that "Drive Porsche 917 at Someplace Like Road America" needs to be on my bucket list.  And almost as soon as I thought it, I had another thought:  Given my driving skills, it would be prudent to make sure everything else on the list is already crossed off before I attempt this!  Anyhow, the intensity of this film made my cardio session much more enjoyable.

But if the film improved my cardio, the endorphin-laden cardio trance also enhanced the film for me.  Because I noticed a scene, just a few seconds long, in a way I had never noticed it before.  It is about 3/4 of the way through the film, and McQueen has just wrecked his beautiful #20 Gulf Porsche 917.  He is taken to the track hospital in a funky little red medical van, with a shape vaguely resembling a VW microbus.  When he gets to the hospital, he hobbles out of the ambulance and into the arms of a waiting nun.  She is a nurse at the hospital, and greets him with two simple words:

This way.

Now, to my way of thinking, race car drivers have about the sexiest job on the planet.  And, while I know others disagree, the vocation of being a nun is kind of at the opposite end of the excitement spectrum.  This is, no doubt, due to my lamentable worldliness.  Probably through God's eyes it is quite the other way round.

And then, the epiphany hit me!

For I saw that here in this two-second scene, Steve McQueen is the world, and the nun is the church.  Bam!  And what is the first thing the church does for the world?

It proclaims:  This way!  And then it begins to lead the world upwards, just as the nun in Le Mans leads McQueen up a set of stairs to the hospital.

I know I'm the Hot Rod Anglican and everything, but maybe I'm too much "hot rod" and not enough "Anglican" ... for, as I watched this clip, I was the injured, limping McQueen, out in the world and getting in trouble, getting banged up.  Maybe, just maybe, I ought to take a little more time to meditate on myself in that other role, leading the world upward to healing, to God, and proclaiming the great "this way" of the Gospel.

For those interested in seeing the scene in its entirety, it occurs around the 2 minute mark of this clip: