The Neon Cross

 

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The kids are in bed, my wife is drifting off to sleep, the garbage is taken care of and the doors are locked.

It’s time to go for a ride.

My 2011 Chevy Silverado 1500 5.3 liter V8 with crew cab is my chariot. Seven thousand pounds of steel and black leather interior wait for me to climb into the cab. 

True, the tailgate has a few dings, and the back tail light is cracked (side note, secure your trampoline during a high wind advisory), but I let those things stay. It’s a truck after all. 

I slide behind the wheel and turn the key. She starts unceremoniously, but the subtle vibration of the engine in the seat, and the glow of the dashboard on my face connects us, man and machine. 

Deep down I long for the rumble of dual exhaust, but I can’t deny that Chevy trucks make for a quiet comfortable ride. 

She’s perfect.

We swing in reverse, I cut the wheel to the right and we head down the dark turns of my long winding driveway. The low hanging branches that my wife is dying to cut down, scrape across my roof. I know this screeching caress is not great for the paint, but truth be told, it makes me feel like I’m exiting the Bat Cave.

In seconds I’m on the road, her headlights cut through the darkness. 

I’m not gone long, I keep the cruise control a few miles below the speed limit, but something about driving through the night creates a sense of mystery and adventure that fills my soul. 

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They are the same roads I travel by day, to get groceries or drop my kids off at school, but under the starlight, they transform into  uncharted mystical pathways. I instantly wonder, what will I see tonight?

I start talking to myself. I replay conversations I’ve had and say the things I wish I had said. I imagine myself standing before a huge mass of people, each hanging on my every word as I pontificate about the way things should be done, if I were in charge.

I think about my family and my friends. I remember my youth and think about my future. But really all of this stuff is just a way for me to decompress. I talk more during that thirty or sixty minutes of driving than I do all day. I need that release or I feel my mind will explode. 

Ultimately, without fail, I start to talk to God. I ask him if I’m on the right path. I argue with him about his lack of clarity. “I want what you want, God, just show me what I am supposed to be doing!”

Then, like a good Catholic, I am stricken with guilt. I disgust myself with my lack of gratitude for all of the blessings in my life. I chastise myself for my moments of doubt, but the question remains, “Are you real? Where are you?”

I turn the corner and he’s there in bright glowing neon blue and a streak of sodium light.

It’s the cross on the back of my little church in my little town. It seems strange and out of place in a community of five thousand.

Neon is for The Strip in Las Vegas and the bustle of Times Square. Neon is hip and cool, electrified gas in round twisty tubes, it’s not for the stoic mystery of religion or a testament to Jesus dying on the cross for our sins.

Or is it?

That illuminated cross burns all night. By its very nature, it exists solely for the night-time traveler, the one who searches in the dark for some sign of other-worldly presence or an answer to the question: “Are you there, God?”

I smile as I snap a shot in the dark. On a rainy night, miles from home, I need only roll down my window and look to my left. I pull away feeling comforted. Maybe I’m not alone in the dark.

Maybe Jesus has been riding shotgun all along.

-Mike Sposito

Owner, Spowerks LLC

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