National Roundabout Week begins Sept. 16. 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 in 2014. I had never driven in a roundabout, but living here with more than 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 the 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 1,442. It was like most U.S. towns with a downtown hardware store, a drugstore and three stoplights. It had only four churches with Carmel Christian Church (the church I am presently serving as senior pastor) 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 more than 92,000 and a diversity of cultures and faith traditions.
In 1998 Jim Brainard became mayor, and over the last 20 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 multifaith community.
Driving through a roundabout creates 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.
Jerry Zehr, Carmel