Friday, November 1, 2013

Driving through God's country

Here we go again, guys.  It's time for another crazy month of me complaining about enjoying writing every day.  It's supposed to be a "challenge," so I guess it fits that it's challenging, right?

November is a rough month to do it, too.  There is just a lot going on in November.  (But then again, there's always a lot going on, isn't there?  That's the point.  To have a lot going on and to do it anyway).

I drove from Maryland to upstate New York today to visit my sister.  She has mono and is pretty miserable, so I came to force her into bed so her spleen doesn't explode cheer her up.  So far, she seems cheered, I made soup and tea and pudding, she is currently sleeping, and as far as I know, her spleen is in tact.  Sounds like a win all the way around so far.

I'm not going to go into this here, because it's just not appropriate to do so, but family is hard, isn't it?  It's hard in the sense that you will do anything in the world for them, and hard in the sense that, ultimately, you can control and actually help so very little.  Ultimately, everyone still makes their own road and walks their own path.  What a blessing and what a curse that is.

At any rate, the majority of my 6.5 hour journey was spent driving through central Pennsylvania today.  It was absolutely gorgeous.  The sky was bright blue, and the leaves were every color of red and orange and yellow and gold.  As I got higher into the mountains, the leaves have mostly fallen off the trees already -- but my goodness, it was gorgeous.  There were so many waterways and beautiful old bridges I crossed over.  There are amazing, rocky riverbeds and mountains spreading higher and higher around you, so you just feel completely engulfed by the enormous protective beauty.  It makes you feel small and insignificant and, for some reason, I love that feeling.  It reminds me that there is so much more to life and the world than what is going on in my head.  It is in places like that where I feel the most safe.  I can't really explain it.  Maybe it's because I feel the most connected to a higher power in those moments.

I wrote a poem a long time ago (which I do not have with me to share) about one of those moments.  It was around Thanksgiving time, and I went to the ocean.  It was freezing cold and incredibly windy, and I stood on the beach watching the waves and felt overwhelmed by the power of the ocean and the wind.  I wrote a poem afterwards that is much more forceful and aggressive than the ones I typically write -- but ended it with "I smile/and bow my head in thanksgiving."  Even in the midst of all the power I felt around me, I still felt so held, and safe, and was so very grateful.

But ANYWAY, in the midst of all that, Central PA is also really weird.  For example, for a while, the only radio stations I could get were religious talk radio, religious music, country music, and NPR.  After a short time, NPR cut out, so I begrudgingly went with country.  After not too long, country was out, too, so I graced the dog with my singing.  I will not be accidentally leaving my CDs in the trunk on the return trip, I can tell you that.

I passed 2 horse drawn buggies with adorable (perhaps Amish or Mennonite) children and strict looking (perhaps Amish or Mennonite) parents.

I also passed too many "adult stores" to count, and even more billboards for these "adult stores" featuring busty ladies and vague promises of what's inside.

Interestingly, there were signs EVERYWHERE saying that it was a "high DUI area" and that it was an "aggressive driver area" and that I should "stay alert."

I also passed two signs telling me that I would be going to Hell, and a third one that read, "Repent and be baptized in the name of Yashua or die in sin."

I got stared at by a group of mountain men (i.e. very tall, strong looking men with weathered skin, a toothpick between their teeth, overalls or blue jeans and a plaid shirt, with long gray hair and a long beard) in a gas station where they were sitting and eating sandwiches.  In the gas station.  Where I had to go inside to pay because the machines at the pump didn't accept credit cards.

I was way off the beaten path, my friends, and the only thing you can say for certain is that it is God's country.

(Except maybe for the aggressive drivers, the DUIs, and the adult stores.  I'm still not sure what to say about them).


  1. Right!? One thing I definitely noticed on my long drive was the preponderance of adult bookstores (and their shady promises) and the you're-going-to-hell billboards. What does it say this all goes hand in hand on our highways?

    I love driving through central PA. You've made me want to do it again!

    1. It was gorgeous! And I used to see the adult stores and you're-going-to-hell signs on the way to Ohio, too. Isn't it crazy? If an alien came down from another planet and landed on some random highway in the US...what exactly would they think of us?

      I don't think I want to know.