Yesterday, I was traveling back from Omaha, Nebraska, through Iowa,
home to St. Paul via Inter-states 80 and 35. I spent the first hour
in silence, enjoying the rural landscape outside Council Bluffs:
rolling farm lands, terraced fields, green crops of corn and beans,
all lovely and breathtaking.
I like being silent on road trips. At least for a sweet portion of my
journey. Ever since I started reading Pema Chodron and learned about
this meditation practice called, "tonglen" I've been intentional
about using my car-time to breathe in the icks and ills and ouchies
of the world, and transform them sending out love and
compassion....It's a good use of time for me, and has lead to some
incredible insights, thoughts, emotions and memories coming forward...
But yesterday, not unlike other tonglen-road-trip-times, I had not
only the awe of inspired thought, but an experience of grace that
felt so completely of God, as the elements of the Universe seemingly
broke open to hit me on the head with LOVE already! Or what seemed:
the renewed promises of LOVE!
But I must back up to before I felt the "LOVE" and was more so in the
space of the "FEAR."
It was on 80 that I first noticed some scary things. These scary
items were blown rubber tires littering the highway. I saw at least 5
vehicles in total on both sides of the 4 lane divided roadway,
parked, and wheelless. Drivers pulling out their spares, jacks drawn
and replacement or repair taking place. It was sorta frightening, as
I sped down the interstate going next to 80 mph, and imagining what
my Honda CR-V would look like if it blew a tire. Would I go tumbling
sideways? Roll dramatically over and into the ditch? Would things get
scratched? Would there be an explosion of air bags in the car as the air in my
wheels burst outside?
Why do tires explode, after all? Did someone drop a load of nails?
Were there broken bottles strewn over the pavement? What?
I sent a prayer request to a friend via text, and one to God, and
asked that I navigate safely, get home without having anything explode.
Okay. So, intentional and faith-aligned enough I was along Interstate
80. That was just the first third of my route.
Next: came the stormy part north of Des Moines, on 35. When I say,
"stormy" I may be down playing this a bit. (Today, checking out the
headlines and news of flash floods and six people dead in Southern
Minnesota, I think I am pretty fortunate to report the following.)
Dark clouds. Thunder. Lightening. Torrential downpour. Vision limited
to 5 feet in front of a vehicle, if only and only if a person had SUPER FAST WIPERS!
Nothing else but blackness and a thick sea of water pouring over me.
I have been in such treacherous driving conditions before. I have.
Maybe like twice:
1. Once, outside of Lincoln, Nebraska, when I was 23 or 24, coming
back to Omaha from a Cornhusker game or from a sales call...(In my
former life.) I had to pull over and park it for a good hour, until
the storm cleared.
Suzann's wedding reception in Norfolk. Yes, instead of a sea of rain,
I was immersed in a continent of snow. That time, I followed a semi-
truck home. The trip that normally took 6 hours, required 9 -- of behind-
the-wheel, white-knuckled concentration. I made it safely, and got a
good toast out of the whole thing, recognizing then that God shows up
in the craziest of places. In this case: I felt the Divine in the taillights
of the 18-wheeler, leading me home. Just like it seemed God had lead
this couple Suzann and Brook to their wedding, against a storm of
fears and concerns and questions. (They are still happily married,
On this trip yesterday, as vehicle after vehicle pulled off the
pavement to park in the grass or shoulder along the interstate, I
asked for guidance. And voila! A semi pulled ahead of me. While I
drove going only 25 - 40mph an hour for the next 60 minutes, I felt
safe. Calm. And completely knew I was only managing to stay moving,
so long as I was being lead. Again, God in the tail lights keeping me
on the raod.
A couple times during this portion of the trip, my semi-truck and his
precious lights got a bit ahead of me, switched lanes, and it felt
like he was going to zoom off and disappear, but I stayed close. And
I was able to steer and stay centered in my lane for as long as the
When my semi turned on his blinker and made way to exit around Story
City, I noticed that suddenly the sun reappeared. Peeked through the
black skies, and viola! The rain let up.
As the truck moved right onto the exit ramp, leaving me almost
completely alone on this road, I was able to read the side of his
rig, "Sea Star." It made me smile.
Within about two minutes, I turned off my wipers as the sky
transformed itself. Sun light in yellow to grey hues, emerging from
the black clouds, lit up the fields. I could clearly see the corn and
beans again. This time, they too appeared transformed, new, story-
book/ movie-scene like: aglow in this post-storm magical light.
And then the whopper: That mythical Noah-and-his-ark-after-the -flood
gift: I got a rainbow. A full blown fully semi-circle rainbow. And
just because God likes to show off and double up on this promise to
take care of us, our hearts, our lands, our lives: He gave me two of
them! Like one was embracing the other, saying, "Yeah, I know you are
bright and strong and arching these Iowa fields in a poetic fashion.
Fabulous. Now, let me just shadow you. Shine alongside. My colors
aren't going to be as intense, but I'm here, mirroring your beauty and
It all made me very, very happy. And, perhaps not unlike Noah, love
God for His/Her promises. I like the big ways that God manifests in the
natural world. I am especially grateful for how even when I am
laughing and ready to shirk off my perceived sense of the Divine --
as simply being Melissa-ridiculousness, this Creator shows up and
presents a double wammy that seems to confirm His/ Her unwavering
presence in the world.
Gotta say "Thank you!" And "Amen."