Gravel roads were not a rarity in Illinois. Our little town was surrounded by them. Blacktop roads connected neighboring burgs, but if you wanted a shortcut – gravel roads were the way to go. Farms sat still in weighted clouds of dust as yellow rock twisted its way around green yards and bean fields, past white farmhouses and barns. Today I would call this the scenic route. But in my mid twenties it was road therapy as I tried to self-heal the wounds from four years past.
Early mornings found my little car and me dilly-dallying on these back roads as I headed to work at a nearby land development. Camera ready on the seat next to me, I looked for metaphors of my mood. As fog hung heavy one morning, I pulled over to capture a lonely tree stranded mid-field. A rusty watering tank sat off to its side. (I’m empty.) A stormy morning brought a huddle of cows to shelter under that same tree. Heads hanging low, they seemed too tired or too afraid to look up. (I’m weak). Though cloudy days are my favorite, it was a sunny morning that brought a most tender snapshot. Around the final curve on the left a white two story farmhouse brought memories of my grandparents’ home. A young mother, on her knees in the grass, planted flowers as her two young children toddled nearby. They were living lives of love. (I’m hopeful).
I did not pray that morning for a life that mirrored what I saw, but an unspoken yearning cried out from deep inside. And the God of my childhood heard. He paved a road to the Way and my emptiness was filled. My weak soul was nurtured to strength by my newly found Hope. My God lifted me up and gifted me with a new life – a life of living Love.
In the day when I cried out, You answered me, And made me bold with strength in my soul. Psalm 138:3