Thursday, September 17, 2009


Today starts the second half of my drive, from Kansas City, Missouri to Seattle-- the half I'll share with my mother. At this point, I've hugged the last of my Virginia-bred friends, and yesterday I crossed the Mississippi. As my road buddy Jack puts it, I'm "halfway across America, at the dividing line between the East of my youth and the West of my future."

Though the journey thus far has certainly been emotional (why do you think I'm writing at 5:30 AM? Too many jitters to sleep well this morning), I've only cried three times in the past week, fewer tears than I expected with all of these goodbyes. I cried once on Friday, when my youngest brother took the field for his first varsity football game. The crowd rose to its feet and it hit me like a ton of bricks that this could be the only game I'll ever watch him play. I got more than a few funny looks as I stood in those bleachers, trying to cheer while drying the corners of my eyes. The next morning, I wept as I pulled away from my parents' house, watching my dad grow smaller and smaller as he waved from the driveway, the same sadness welling in his own eyes.

The tears came again that afternoon as I crossed the Virginia state line, remembering a similar September drive four years ago. My depression had reached its lowest point and I'd taken off towards West Virginia in a heap of sobs and snot, just hoping to find some room to breathe again. Saturday, as I passed the overlook where I'd stopped that day, I found myself overwhelmed with joy, remembering how God had met with me in the still small voice of the mountain breeze. And how in the years to come, he would take each one of my doubts and fears and inadequacies and transform them into a deeper, stronger, and truer faith. A faith that now compels me westward, though so many parts of my heart remain in the East.

And now you can rack that Kleenex counter up to four. The waterworks are starting again.

Still, despite these tears, my spirit grows more hopeful with every new mile.

For me, to travel is to test the vastness of God. I've seen his hand in everything the past few days. In the sway of cornfields and the curve of country roads. In the gleam of tin silos reflecting the mid-morning sun. In the coolness of the wind on my face as I hit seventy on a stretch of Missouri highway. In the hospitality of friends. In the smiles of strangers. In the unending horizon.

These are the moments that assure me that my path is secure. Moments when every worship song I've ever heard overlaps in my fluttering heart, bursting forth in a symphony of praise.

And I haven't even crossed the Rocky Mountains yet...

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