last week, i drove 1800 miles and roughly 25 hours.
i slept in five states across the span of ten days.
i packed three small bags, enough clothes to last, and two pillows, plus the quilt my grandmother made for my twenty-fourth birthday.
and i saw so many people i love and hold dearly. more than i can count on one hand, or even two.
a trip to louisville to see a sweet friend say “i do” turned into a roadtrip to knoxville to see other friends, to stopping by the carolinas to say hello and revisiting my college stomping grounds.
if you could map it all out, it would look like a lot of driving. the route takes a sort of circle, something like this:
and it was. it was a lot of driving. a lot of sermons and a lot of podcasts while on the road. a lot of phone calls and sweet teas from mcdonald’s, a playlist that i entitled #thehappiestweek (full of ben rector and the avett brothers and indelible grace music and hymns and coldplay) and “can i make it twenty more miles before i absolutely HAVE to stop to use the bathroom?” (the answer to which, of course, is always yes).
but it was also something else. in the course of visiting all these people i love – some i’ve known for years, and others who entered my life recently while in seminary – i discovered how blessed i am by the community i have around me.
the very fact that i have places in five states where i could lay my head at night to rest is a big deal. it’s a bigger deal that, in those five states (and in many more) there are people that i love. not the neat, pretty, folded-into-a-box and tied with a nice ribbon kind of love. it’s the kind of love that is messy. that can sit in the silence with someone and mourn over loss, and rejoice over new things, and dream, and listen, and comfort. the kind of love that lives life with someone – the good and the bad.
and i am blessed to say that a lot of my friends…they are those kinds of friends.
but it’s more than just the beauty of friendships. as i drove each leg of my journey, i came to a realization that, just as my GPS traced the map and tracked my route for the next destination, i was also re-tracing the paths of God’s faithfulness in my life.
sometimes i forget that i have lived life. some people always stay in the same town. they grow up there, and get married, and have kids. i don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. and i don’t think there’s anything wrong with having pieces of your life all over, because you’ve spent days here and days there and love so many different people from so many different places. because, well, that is my life.
and so i could dance in a reception hall in crestwood, kentucky, with friends made from multiple summers of working camp. and sit on the couch with a mentor in knoxville and share my heart – the good and hard and beautiful things of the last year. and talk theology and ministry and life with another close friend, over asian food and fortune cookies. and have dinner with my best friend from middle school, in my favorite mexican restaurant in my home county. and sit at my grandparents and watch football, and think about all the days i spent on their couch growing up, covered up in my favorite green blanket, with my nose in a book. and pick up beezers for lunch in the city that most feels like home, and have lunch in the very place where i felt called into ministry. where i became an adult. where people really believed in me and took the time to invest in me….even with my shyness and timidity and fears. where i lived through hard but good transitions and could look back and see God working even in the pain. in a city where there are friends who know me better than i know myself, and speak truth when i can’t seem to hear it.
so whether on the dance floor, or seeing a spectacular sunset across a river, or numbering the stars spilled out across the navy canvas of a western north carolina night sky, or touching the bricks on the horseshoe, with the grass between my feet…i can see his hand. i can trace his goodness.
my trip, and my life, has been a map of his faithfulness. who am i to ever wonder if he knows what he is doing? who am i to ever question if he is really in control? the past is overwhelming evidence that the future, and now, are in his hands.
and that he is good.