Saturday, June 14, 2014

Ghost Car

Growing up, my favourite computer console games were the driving ones. I never went in for fighting, and the football ones seemed too complicated. At least with the driving games, you could put the car on automatic and just concentrate on speeding and steering. But there was one aspect of those games that got a little frustrating, and that was the ghost car.

The ghost car appeared in single player mode. It was a representation of your fastest ever lap of the course. Every time you played, the ghost car was whizzing round the track, edging ahead, annoying you as you tried to beat your best time and get ahead. It pushed you to your limits, encouraging you to set a new record.

Having grown up playing those games, I found that when I started driving, it was as if I always had a ghost car in my mind, if not my eyes. Regular journeys would have a 'best time' - from home to getting parked at university in Belfast; from home to Tesco; later, from home to Newtownstewart and so on. I wasn't flying. i wasn't breaking speed limits, but I was always comparing the time it was taking with the best ever time on that journey.

Another regular journey was from Kesh to Newtownstewart. On a Monday evening I went to the Fountain youth centre for youth fellowship. My journey home was another 'ghost car' run. Could I shave a second or two off my time? This particular night, ten years to the day, it was a good, clear run. I came by Ederney, Lack, Drumquin, past Baronscourt, when I took a sharp right hand corner a little too quickly. Two wheels left the ground, but by the grace of God I didn't turn over, and I came back to solid ground shaken, but fine. It was the scariest moment of my life. Thankfully no damage was done. I escaped, while many other young drivers don't.

The very next day, ten years ago tomorrow, an email arrived that was to chart these past ten years and, with God's help, the rest of my life. It was an email containing a letter from Bishop Harold, Bishop of Down and Dromore, informing me that he was recommending my for training for ordination. How strange the timing - a fearful experience one night, and the next day a confirmation of my future.

Those events have been etched on my mind. Ten years ago today. So much has happened since then - college, engagement, marriage, ordination, ministry in Dundonald and Fermanagh - and hopefully much more still to come. My driving has changed. It's slower and safer. The ghost car has been consigned to the scrap heap. I'm better off without it.

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