I’m a bit more enlightened about life while traveling throughout the Pacific Northwest with Mike while on our Praycation. Here are a few of the lessons:
1) Always check my husband’s suitcase before walking out the door of our home. (Who packs just three shirts for four weeks on the road and how did I not catch it?)
2) Along the same lines as number one, the fact that you pack a smaller suitcase than your wife doesn’t mean you have something to brag about. (Just ask those around us who smells better after several days without laundry service available.)
3) Free Wi-Fi outside of the state of Washington means that yes, it is available, if you don’t mind getting up at 3:00 AM in the morning to use it.
4) There sure is a lot of roadkill in Montana. (What do they do with all the carcasses? In other words, we shouldn’t be worried about any of the meat we eat here, should we?)
5) Living by oneself in wide open spaces has perks and peculiarities. Take the guy we met while “mining” for garnets. He talked in half sentences and said random things like “Have you heard about aromatherapy?” then didn’t explain himself. (Maybe it was a hint to Mike …. although in his defense, Mike says, “Hey, I’ve worn fresh underwear every day.”) When asked how he got into a business that means living in a little shack in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by mounds and mounds of dirt, the man kept repeating, “It’s my destiny,” then laughed ominously. Yes, it was somewhat eerie.
6) The term “scenic drive” does not mean the same thing in Montana as it does in Washington; albeit, Mike and I do find refreshing beauty in sage brush and miles and miles and miles and miles of hay bales.
7) On a more contemplative note: As we visit historical sites,I was struck with fresh understanding that every generation contained good guys and gals as well as bad ones. I tend to romanticize the past as always being simpler, more pristine, and more wholesome. Our trip to ghost towns with their sorted tales of past citizens, reminded me that such is not necessarily true. There have been some pretty twisted people and lots of social problems in the fabric of our nation’s history and our communities … the need for God has always been resident.
8) More contemplation: Hunting for garnets taught me that in order to find treasures in the dirt, one needs water. The water washed away sand and small, useless particles. Also, without good ol’ H2O we would have never seen the garnets. The water brought out the red color and gave us a hint of what to expect once our stones were polished. Made me think of how the Bible speaks of the Lord’s church (His people) being washed clean by the water of HIs word. (Eph. 5:26) and all of the imagery in scripture of living water and of never thirsting when we are in God. I’ve felt this re-wakening for months now, to the truth that I need God’s word daily to reveal the treasures in me and others that are otherwise lost in the muck of the messy, broken life.
9) Forget the exquisite bed and breakfast deep into southern Idaho (although I’d go back to Abigail’s Inn in a heartbeat), all Mike and I need for the highlight of the trip is an oldie’s station on a winding, deserted two-lane highways for several hours. I think we found the only non-country station within 500 miles and now I want to know – How did I make it to my 50’s without ever hearing these words sung:
“My name is Michael, I got a nickel
I got a nickel, shiny and new
I’m gonna buy me all kinds of candy
That’s what I’m gonna do”
This and other long forgotten songs of the 70’s brought tears to our eyes from the laughter. Good thing we were the only ones on the road … I may or may not have swerved the car precariously a time or two.
10) I’ve always known this about Mike, but it’s been good for my heart to see how easily he engages strangers in conversations. He has a true talent for drawing out from people what they enjoy most in life. He has been so at ease. (Well, except when he’s trying to navigate and I’m not listening well, and when Siri is being difficult. There is a reason, we’ve found, that Siri is considered “artificial” intelligence.) I haven’t seen Mike this unburdened and light hearted since months before the collapse.
11) It has been wonderful to be away from constant doctor appointments (although several await us when we return). Appointments and long hours on the phone (talking mostly to machines) have probably amounted to as much stress as the 29 days in the hospital. We are so thankful for every provision and need met that has come as a result … but I’ve realized how stressful that season was. Every mile driven this last month has been a chance to de-stress and re-focus.
12) Final revelation: One of us is a worse back seat (side-seat) driver than the other. BUT, I’m sure glad we have each other for the ride.
Thank you, Lord, for Your goodness to us. So underserved, Your graces never seem to run out. Difficulties may abound, but thank You for reminding us that grace is never far behind … and if we look close enough, we will be able to see the grace of the hardship itself. Thank you, Father.