Thoroughly Alive

We must hunger after the beautiful and the good...


Autumn Jaunt

I felt just like Tom Bombadil two mornings ago. Out with the dawn and "both my eyes open." When I rose and leapt away down the road in my car, the big dipper filled the window to my left, and dawn was a green line ahead. I like the silence of earliest day that watches, poised, to spring up and sing at the first hint of light. I like to watch the way that day wells up golden in the fields, more like water seeping all through a field than light falling from the sky. I keep my space hushed in those early hours.

My mom read someone recently (can't remember the author) who said that if we wish to hear God speak, we must make a space of silence in our minds. Well, my car is my quiet. My coracle, my little boat caught in a swift stream but whole and silent unto itself. I listen a lot as I drive. And the loneliness, the solitary hush becomes prayer.

Eventually, I listen to a book on tape or some music. My choice this time surprised me; I snatched something called The Life You Save May Be Your Own from the shelf at my library. Something about writers and faith was on the cover and I stuck one of the CDs in my first morning, not sure what to expect. Well, it's a biographical, writerly, spiritual symphony describing the lives of four major Catholic writers who influenced the spirituality and action of Christians in the past fifty years. Thomas Merton, monk and writer, Dorothy Day, writer and activist, plus Walker Percy, and Flannery O'Connor. Oddly enough, I have been quite challenged, convicted even, by the unblinkered sincerity with which these writers pursued God and a life of integrity.

But how beautiful for me, that they did it, at least partly, through writing. And, most of them were influenced into their own radical choices by the writing of others. This is becoming somewhat of a theme to my coracle ruminations.

I sang, soared in eastern Illinois as the sun split open the night and darkness melted from the sky. I was convicted in northern Kentucky, convicted to write, to act, in sight of those strong shouldered hills cradling the valleys. I ached to write in the bushy, gorgeous maze of the West Virginia mountains. I let a mountainous storm and a tempestuous violin sing my exultation in the fact of striving hard after God and books and my next destination as I crested the green, lolling hills of Virginia.

Allright, so the above was what happened in my soul. The rest of the story is that I have decided road trips are just one grand excuse to eat all the things you never get to at home. I mean when else in years have I eaten a burger and fries two days running? And munched on candy (gummy bears) and chocolate (dark, thank you, in a plain bar and in covered almonds) using the grave excuse of keeping myself alive (i.e., awake)? Or condoned, entirely without guilt, the guzzling of as much coffee (mocha cappuccinos, I mean) as my poor stomach could take?

I love road trips.