Once a Catholic always a catholic – except now, I am one with a lower case “c”. Around my neck I wear a medallion. No, it’s not a Blessed Mother medallion but a medal of a saint with a more dubious reputation. The medal is tasteful and subdued, made of silver and emerald green enamel. You practically need a magnifying glass to see the teeny tiny icon. It’s St. Christopher.
Now St. Christopher is a totally bogus saint. A 13th century legend contends that St. Christopher hoisted the Christ Child on his shoulders and carried him across a raging river. There used to be (and may still be!) a Catholic version of the AAA motor club, a confraternity of drivers on the interstate highways and neighborhood streets. Members received holy cards, medals and little plastic statues of St. Christopher to adorn their dashboards. Buckle up for safety; buckle up. Well…..
Driving is not my best thing, not my best thing by far. As a teenager I flunked Drivers’ Ed. I aced those paper tests about speed limits and traffic signs — but behind the wheel – not so much. I had to do remedial work at the EZ Method Driving School — easy for whom I am not so sure. Lucky me — I am also directionally challenged. I get lost in my own backyard and have not a clue what true north means. Reading maps is like reading Greek – and I don’t remember any Greek from my seminary days. But…
Put the pedal to the metal — get me out on the highway and zoom, zoom, ZOOM! One thing you may not know about the bipolar brain is that one’s internal clock can tick way too fast or way too slow. Speeding down the super highway quite literally super speeds me up. Driving down Interstate 95 so much faster than that tepid 65 mph, I sprout wings. I don’t drive under underpasses, I fly over them — at least in my mind I think I do. Do you know how fantastic it feels to fly? It feels amazing, dangerous, and delicious.
But of course, I can’t fly. And it is damn dangerous — and crazy reckless. Combine that with a cocktail of crazy meds – and it is an accident no longer waiting to happen. On my way to St George’s in the wee hours of a Sunday morning a few years ago, my car swerved across three lanes of traffic
on southbound I95, flew over the barricade, rolled over twice, landing on the northbound shoulder. The roof was caved in, the windshield shattered, the front end destroyed. God only knows how I did not get myself killed. God only knows how I did not get anybody else killed. When the state trooper asked me if I was okay I told him. “I am okay, officer — but I have to go to church.”
So now everyday, I wear that St. Christopher medal. “Christopher” literally means Christ-carrier – God bearer. Stopping at stop-lights, I touch the tiny medallion like a talisman. So — slow and steady, two eyes on the road and two hands on the wheel. Stay in the right lane and turn off the iPhone. Every car I pass — I remind myself carries something sacred. Every single car on every highway and byway — I remind myself has somebody’s baby on board (regardless of age!).
Bogus saint, Christopher may be, but for bipolar me his symbol is powerful indeed. Powerful enough maybe to cast out my demons, St. Christopher, the speed demon exorcist, extraordinaire.
So friends, buckle up for safety, buckle up.