This week is National Roundabout Week. Being the president of the Carmel Interfaith Alliance, I was thinking of the correlation between the physical roundabouts and the spiritual roundabouts in our lives. My wife Diane and I moved to Carmel, Indiana, in 2014. I had never driven in a roundabout, but living here with over 100 roundabouts was going to be a new experience.
A modern roundabout is a circular intersection where drivers travel counterclockwise around a center island. There are no traffic signals or stop signs. Drivers yield at entry to traffic in the roundabout, then enter the intersection and exit at their desired street.
Carmel was a town in 1960 that had a total population of 1442. It was like most USA towns with a downtown hardware store, a drugstore, and three stoplights. It had only four churches in the town with Carmel Christian Church ( the church I am presently serving as Senior Pastor) having been established in 1958.
Christianity was the only religion in the town like most of the small towns across the country. Through the years of growth, the community moved from being a town with one major religious expression to a city in 2019 with a population of over 92,000 and a diversity of cultures and faith traditions.
In 1998 James Brainard became the Mayor, and over the last twenty years, he has helped the city evolve in many ways. The roundabout was an important part of his vision for helping the city to become a community of flow and grace. Many statistics prove the cost-effectiveness to the city and the decrease in accidents, but I see a town with roundabouts as a correlation to how we can live in a multi-faith community.
Driving through a roundabout is a traffic flow where people have to drive slowly, allowing people to exit to the turnoff to their desired destination. God’s roundabout is like that as well as we are respectful, allowing people to enter the center island area ( community) and exit as they travel their journeys of life.
If we can learn to respect and make space for people of other belief systems, maybe we can improve our life flow like the traffic flow decreasing the number of accidents and improving our quality of life.
I have always seen God having a multi-faith roundabout with entrances and exits of many faiths as we live together in this world. May we enjoy driving the roundabouts in our city and our spiritual lives.
Pastor Jerry Zehr