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Faces on Faith: Of Popes and traffic

By Staff | Oct 7, 2015

The number one complaint on Sanibel last season was . . . traffic! Many days Periwinkle Way was literally bumper-to-bumper for several hours .

I too joined in the grumbling. Yet, how quickly we forget!

Earlier this month I was in New Jersey on sabbatical and I was reminded what a real traffic jam looks like–and how few people really consider the other driver as they swerve in and out.

While I was in New Jersey there were warnings about the traffic mess that would arrive with Pope Francis.

On the Garden State Parkway, overhead LED signs proclaimed: “Major NYC events in week ahead. Expect closings.”

Not just delays, but closings!

Whole sections of streets and roads blocked off to any traffic. Mass transit over crowded.

Buses crammed with folks. Subways overloaded. Trains chock-a-block with sightseers and the faithful.

I’m sure there were similar warnings in Philadelphia and Washington. A veritable traffic apocalypse!

Yet the Pope, who was transported not in a limo but in a gas-saving Fiat 500 (don’t you love it?) did not address the traffic situation–at least not directly.

But he did address climate change. We have an obligation, he said, to take care of this gift we have been given by God, this gift we call Planet Earth, what he referred to in more than one of his addresses and homilies as “our common home.”

Obviously, our use of cars and other modes of transportation has a direct impact on the environment–and so, traffic does present an issue for us all to consider–but not for the usual reasons (things like inconvenience) but rather because of its role in the overall environmental situation.

Pope Francis also said that in order to address climate change–and many of the other issues facing our world, ranging from poverty to war to intolerance–we will need to change.

We will need to change our hearts, our minds, and our ways of living.

We will need to be more forward thinking, and instead of being so focused on our own needs, we will need to consider the needs of those who come after us.

As I continued on my sabbatical which included a very long road trip I was made more aware than ever of the impact traffic can have on our lives.

But I was also reminded of the irony the trip itself (with its many, many miles of driving and gallons and gallons of gasoline).

And so, going forward, I am forced to asks myself anew, what can I do to make a difference–what I can do to take care of this gift of God called Planet Earth? How do I need to change?