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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Also in The Waking
Melissa Ostrom's essay "Buttoned" appears in Issue No. 53: Shelter.
My sick body is still good. She is still me. She is still wise and strong. My female body—to which others believe they are entitled—is still my home. She is still my power. Our stressed and strained bodies are waiting for us to return to them.
Teaching has saved me some days. When I didn’t want to get up but had to because there was George Saunders or Sandra Cisneros to read and discuss, I was saved from the pit of Myself Left To Myself that I remember preachers often scaring me into.