Fast, Before We Get Gobbled Up

Fast, Before We Get Gobbled Up

Although I’m often reluctant to admit it in polite company, I love the 1980s film National Lampoon’s Vacation. It recounts the mythic travels of the Griswold family to Walley World, an amusement park (that winds up being closed) in California.

The father, Clark W. Griswold (Chevy Chase), wants to drive; the rest of the family wants to fly. But drive they did, and in their new car too, the bizarre green vehicle nicknamed the Family Truckster.

I watched the first few minutes of the film again last week, the part when the kids are playing Pac-Man (remember?) but Dad insists on showing them the route to Walley World on their primitive computer. The kids are unimpressed and manage to get Pac-Man to chase the Family Truckster on the computerized map, threatening to gobble it up.

When I sat down to pray the next morning, instead of having holy thoughts, I kept seeing Pac-Man chasing the Truckster in my imagination. After awhile, I started thinking about how fast I run away from stuff in my life that wants to gobble me up.

That’s when I wondered if it was really Jesus who was rushing after me as I was running away from him. “Hey, wait up,” he seemed to say. “I’ve been trying to catch up with you for a long time.” Sometimes it seems we need to run toward what we run from. It might not want to gobble us up at all.


Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.Net/Salvatore Vuono




About the Author

Joe McHugh is a spiritual director, retreat leader, teacher, and writer based in the Twin Cities. He contributes regularly to the National Catholic Reporter. His book, "Startled by God: Wisdom from Unexpected Places" is available at He can be contacted at