The Monday after a 2 week break can be a bit of a surreal experience. I’m back at Starbucks on the beach, perhaps for the final time. I think that it’s time for a change once again. I’m getting restless. Mile posts are passing and they seem to be picking up speed. I just brought my youngest back to college. I celebrated 25 years with the greatest gift ever given to me and in two months am looking forward to the arrival of a granddaughter. We are now in warp drive. One might say that this is to be expected when you are “over the hill” and headed down the other side. Trust me, I’m not there yet. I’m still trudging uphill at the moment. I’m listening to the Eagles sing about wasted time this morning and it’s forcing me to contemplate some things. First of all, how do these guys, older than I am, harmonize like that in a live setting? Really..... Secondly, I wonder how close I am to slipping into wasted time?
There is a point, I’m thinking, where the familiar becomes all too unfamiliar. As we crossed back through the mountains of Eastern Oregon after delivering my daughter to college in Boise, we passed by many markers of the Oregon trail. For those of you not up on Western US history, that is one of the main routes for settlers travelling West in the 1800’s. More than 150 year has passed since the majority passed through those mountains in their covered wagons and the most fascinating thing for me is that there are places where you can still see the ruts from their wagon wheels. So many travelled the same path for so long and each passing one etched deeper into the mountains.
I have an idea, with my limited knowledge of ruts from my days on a dirt bike, that in the beginning, this trail gave a sense of direction, familiarity, and security for those who followed behind, like footprints in the snow when visibility is bad. I can also see that, after some time, it became almost a necessity to run your wagon in those ruts. It probably became an additional hazard to try to straddle them and carve your own path. Years down the road I would imagine that they were deep enough that it was extremely difficult to get out of them. So there they were….thousands stuck in the same path. Perhaps they were safer that way. Maybe they did have that sense of security that comes with following a genuine path. But as much as they were able to experience along that trail, imagine how much went missed along the way because they were travelling in the rut. I fear this in my life. As a pastoral artist, I have placed my faith in the one who promised me life and life abundant. It was not intended to be life in the safety of the ruts that I have created.
So as much as I like my view, and as much as I like my chair, I believe that it may be time for me to haul myself out of the rut and look around. Every minute that passes is another that I’ll never get back so I want them each to be filled with wonder. Perhaps I will find more challenges. I’ll definitely find different scenery. Who knows what I’ll find. It might be a bit unnerving, but I doubt that it’ll be as unsettling as the feeling that I have now that the familiar has become unfamiliar.