Sunday, August 07, 2016
Sunday Afternoon Tea - Highways and Interstates
There exists a narrow road close to my home which curves and winds through the forest and ends up at the stoplight on the highway. One must pay attention while driving this road as there are many more vehicles that travel on it these days than intended when the road was cut through the forest.
I was pondering recently... while carefully watching for oncoming cars as I drove around a sharp bend in the road... how different the situation is with the country road and the highway it intersects at the stoplight.
The increased amount of traffic on the narrow road is due to the building of stores and businesses on the highway. However, the highway itself has less traffic than it once did. For when I was a child, this highway was the route most locals took to Chicago.
Once the Interstate system was completed, fewer travelers wanted to drive the 55 mph scenic route which takes one by corn fields, prairie grass, small towns, and these days numerous windmill farms... now that there was a faster route in an increasingly rapid paced world.
In the interest of full disclosure, the narrow road is the one I take to my favorite mega grocery store so I'm not without an appreciation of progress. Nor do I completely dislike the Interstate system as it gets me to my family in New England far faster than would a country highway. However, I would choose to drive the highway over the Interstate any other time.
For faster is not always better and there is something to be said for 55 mph highways.
I've been writing about this anxiety in my spirit, that feeling that something is off-kilter. I'm not alone as many of my favorite writers are talking about the same thing. There is so much bad news, the headlines assaulting us more often than our spirit can keep up with them.
I am told when one first moves to certain areas in California, they can feel the small earthquakes which happen regularly and the people who grew up there don't appear to notice them at all. It is not until buildings shake that native Californians feel the anxiety that those who did not grow up in earthquake territory experience more often.
I'm thinking that is what is going on in my life... our lives... at the moment. We are feeling the small rumblings. Most of us are not used to the bombardment of such bad news day in and day out. There are more big shakings that rattle our everyday existence, not unlike the skyscrapers in Downtown LA.
My husband, curmudgeon that he is, complains often about the way the world is today. As if by muttering and complaining it would change things. But that is what card carrying curmudgeons do you know. I often remind him that this is what the Bible said the days (years) before the return of Christ would be like and that we are told to "look up" for "His redemption draws nigh".
It may briefly cause him to stop mumbling but I do realize that spouting Bible verses alone does not always bring peace in the midst of turmoil. There must be something I can do to make stable the ground underneath my days.
My soul was not meant to bear such a weight of grief as my eyes see and my ears hear through the various forms of media available to the average household.
I think most of us function best on the slower winding roads of life and the world throws at us news at the speed of light. We are connected electronically to just about anyone but are we connected to someone... and to Someone?
I think of the difference between the New York Toll Road we take to see our New England family and the Blue Ridge Parkway we drove on our honeymoon to Virginia. Although New York is a beautiful state, most of what we see are the stop off gasoline/food/restroom areas that look pretty much alike except some have a Starbucks and others don't. (My daughter knows which do...)
However, on our honeymoon, when we left Asheville, we decided to get off the Interstate for awhile and drive the Blue Ridge Parkway to get a close up view of the mountains. Oh, my... all these years later and I still recall the beauty of the mountains.
We stopped for lunch at a tiny restaurant tucked away in an equally tiny mountain town. Neither name can I remember but I do recall that meal... both my husband and I still talk about it. For they served us trout which had just been caught from the creek "out back" that morning.
We have driven the New York Toll Road numerous times but I honestly can't remember anything we ate and my recollection of the foothills of the mountains were from a distance. But the mountains of North Carolina... imprinted in my memory for the ages.
What was the difference? The speed of the trip.
So I'm still pondering how to slow my days so the weeks and months and years make sense. One does not have to leave home to live life in the fast lane. No... whenever we turn on the computer, the iPad, the smart phone, etc. we are connected to the fastest lane in of our life... the World Wide Web.
That is where the craziness of the world comes into my home most often. It is through the lens of the flickering machines that the turmoils begin again in my soul... as I watch the reports of what men can do to each other and the planet. The ground beneath me seems unstable more so each day.
I truly understand that to make sense of the world, I need to remain connected with the One Who Created it. In my very soul, I know the only way to stand firm as the world rumbles in despair is to run to The Rock of My Salvation.
I need to get off the Interstate and take the byroads and the slow winding roads and those which meander through forests and by cornfields and around mountains and to look for the places that refresh the anxious heart.
Everyday I have a decision and you have a decision and we decide how much of the world we let in. If we work in a job which requires we jump right in to the midst of the chaos... He gives grace. But if we have any sort of filter available at our discretion then perhaps we need to set aside Facebook and read a book (a nice, long book) and obviously The Book.
We need to pick green beans. To water flowers. To walk beside the river or the lake or the ocean. To pet a cat or a dog. To hug a child. To bake bread or soup or something else requiring time. To listen to the sounds of the forest. To listen to the sounds of a great city.
To listen to something which does not need to be plugged in and charged.
I am trying to rearrange my schedule each day so I don't get caught up by some sort of electronics first thing in the morning. There is a time for such and an importance in my days. But I'm trying to make it of a lesser importance. Something I control that does not control me.
I need a firm foundation, the return of slow to my days, to get off the Interstate and back on the side roads. Still working on it.... but at least I'm heading in the right direction. Realizing that need is the first step on the slow road.
Image: Blue Stove