When my children were young, I would often drive them to school on my way to work. Initially my “drop off” responsibilities were the result of someone getting up late, or them not wanting to wait at the bus stop with their friends in the cold weather. However, it didn’t take long for me to come to appreciate the “collateral benefits” of spending time with my children in the car for fifteen minutes each morning. What I quickly observed was that at that hour of the day, if I could engage them in conversation I would often gain great insight into their lives. While my children are now adults, during that season of life I developed a few observations of which I was reminded of recently.
First, in the darkened car during our early morning commute with my son sitting next to me and my daughter behind me, my eyes were on the road, making it impossible for us to have eye contact with one another during our conversation. This lack of eye contact created a sense of anonymity as we talked and the need for me to carefully listen to my children without the benefit of “body language” distractions. As a result, over the years I became a big fan of “windshield time” with my children. Secondly the anonymity of “windshield time” enabled them to broach subjects that might be touchy, controversial or difficult to have around the evening dinner table.
One night, along the Pennsylvania Turnpike while returning from a family wedding reception, in the pitch black of the car, a voice spoke up from the backseat asking, “Dad, is Uncle Bob gay?”
That innocent question asked in the safety of the darkness of our Dodge Caravan resulted in an in depth conversation on human sexuality with our children who were 10 and 12 years old at the time. Another memorable conversation occurred at night, in the car, a day or two following the tragic events of September 11th. It was late at night and we were on our way to a college visit when from the back seat one of our children asked us why people would crash planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Even though we were at a loss to explain this, it resulted in an in-depth discussion of good and evil and how we are to view that as people of the Christian faith. Over the years, as I’ve reflected on the special conversations I’ve had in the car with my children I’ve come to appreciate that “windshield time” describes some of the richest interactions we’ve had and how those conversations have shaped my relationship with them. The other day I had the opportunity to take my son (who’s now in his 30’s) to the bus stop so he could begin his daily commute. It had been over 20 years since we’d had that early morning “windshield time” together. This morning our conversation was mostly routine, yet a refreshing way for me to begin my day, spending 15-minutes with my son on his way to work.
After dropping him off it occurred to me that just like I’ve cherished those moments in the early morning darkness with my son and daughter over the years, that my Heavenly Father longs for His daily “windshield time” with me.
One of the disciplines that I’ve been trying to cultivate recently is to improve my daily quiet time with the Lord. My reflection on “windshield time” with my children over the years has given me greater insight into how my heavenly Father must long to spend a bit of time with me at the beginning of each day. A time when I can share my heart with Him in the early morning darkness, from the chair in my living room or at my office desk.