After winding through the mountains and along a river on a cantilevered road, I-70 drops into a valley of western Colorado. The area is a surprising strip of green farmland, home to Palisade peaches fed by the Colorado River. My family and I just drove this highway, and I loved seeing the green and growth after lots of browns, rock, and stubby trees. I saw a bumper sticker recently. It said something along the lines of "the world is full of pain, and our job is to bring happiness into that world" (probably a famous quote). As much as we can imagine and wish a world otherwise (and part of us knows this heaven so well) and wonder why bad things happen to good people, we do live in a world full of difficulty, heartbreak, pain, and tears. We can respond in many ways, but God asks us to respond as the bumper sticker said, to bring happiness and joy despite, or maybe because of, the pain. To be a strip of green in the desert. To be the light in the darkness. On the same trip as the one that took us across Colorado on I-70, we stopped midway in our journey in Salt Lake City. We woke in the morning to find a hole in one of our tires. We took our truck to Big O Tires and the nicest, fastest pit crew rotated our tires and plugged the hole in what felt like 10 minutes. For free. As my husband said, they could have charged us $100 and we would have gladly paid it. This Big O wasn't hurting for business either as they are busier than any other Big O tire in the country. The tire was a minor nuisance in the scope of things, but the service we received was happiness in the midst of that nuisance. A strip of green so we could hit the road and drive past the Great Salt Lake Desert. There are countless ways to bring light and joy into the world. There is great service, like Big O Tires, kind words, smiles, gifts. Ruminate reminds me that art is another way, bringing beauty and something new for others to enjoy, offering new perspectives and interpretations on the themes of life. While traveling with three kids under the age of five, experiencing the small tribulations of road travel, I realize again that we are unable to bring happiness into this world unless we have a source of happiness, unless, like the Palisade peaches watered by the Colorado River, we are watered and fed. God gives us everlasting love from which to be refreshed and to offer light to the world. Today, on our second of travel, with time to think and be still, the wide, bright expanse of uninhabited land in Nevada is a reminder of that everlasting love and light.
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I love that idea, that we are pilgrims on a journey through time. I love that we humans try so hard to find our places on that long road. And I love that you and I are ineffable, numinous pieces of some great mystery we will never fully understand.
I wake with a kind of jolt in my stomach: I know where I am, but I do not know when I am. When in time am I? Are my children both sleeping in the other room? Will I hear their small feet pattering on the floor as they come in to wake me? Will they tumble into bed with Eric and me?
As a witness of thought, it struck me deeply that I must be something much more than what had been running through my mind. I was so identified with thinking that I truly mistook thought for who I was.