Lady Pastor: With a thankful heart, you're destined to enjoy life's journey
I've heard it said that the journey is just as important as the destination, and on a recent road trip to my alma mater, that was most certainly the case.
Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, is only 91 miles away from Stewartville, but I hadn't been back for nearly nine years. My hours on campus last week ended up being a delightful walk down memory lane. A friend and I spent the afternoon wandering through the skyways, visiting the chapel, chatting with professors, and — a personal highlight — locating my favorite reading spot on the third floor of the Vogel Library. Many a British novel was devoured in that spot, a wooden rocking chair with a blue cushion and a most perfect view of the whole campus with all its adorable squirrels.
I enjoyed Waverly day very much. An unexpected result of the trip: I've had dreams about being late for class and short on credits every night since I got home.
But it wasn't only the destination that meant a lot to me that Tuesday afternoon. It was also the drive down U.S. 63. About two miles outside of Stewartville, I ended up behind a big truck carrying a Kuhn Knight feed delivery box. (I only know what it was because I later Googled "vehicle with Kuhn Knight thing on the back.") Above the license plate was a yellow banner with the words OVERSIZE LOAD in all caps.
"Oh great! A slow mover. Isn't this just a great way to start off the drive?" I thought to myself sarcastically. "I always get stuck behind slow vehicles. And I really don't like passing in the winter. Uff da."
Then, bringing to mind my recently consumed mindfulness exercises, I thankfully refocused. "Why am I being grouchy on such a beautiful morning? Blue sky. Clear roads. Plenty of time. A lovely landscape. Emily! Chill out! Enjoy the drive."
The truck was large, but it didn't move slowly. It went 56 miles per hour the whole way. And I did, too, following approximately three seconds behind.
With that yellow banner in my line of sight for such a long stretch of time, I got to pondering the concept of an oversize load. These post-holiday winter months are ripe with oversize loads in the form of seasonally induced sadness and circumstantially induced sadness. It can be a challenging time of year for many folks. Really, regardless of the season, there are plenty of people carrying an oversize load at any given moment, and we all interact with one another every day.
But even when we're most burdened, we likely won't be wearing a bright yellow shirt with OVERSIZE LOAD written on the back, so most people will probably never know. We'll keep working. We'll continue going to sleep and waking up. We'll find peace where we can.
There are generally no quick fixes for what to do with an oversize life load. Sometimes the garbage just has to get dumped. But more frequently, the loads we're carrying have to get processed and sorted through. Eventually, the heaviness lightens.
So knowing that so many people are carrying an oversize load, how do we help one another bear the burden? We walk lightly. We give each other breathing room. We smile with genuine compassion. We slow down and chill out.
I stayed behind the truck and its feed delivery box until Exit 205, where U.S. 63 splits into four lanes. I scooted around and looked in my rearview mirror just quickly enough to see a bearded man in sunglasses in the driver's seat. "Thank you, sir," I thought, "for driving that load with such care."
Destinations are important. Journeys are, too.