Between Here and There

I’m not crazy, as it turns out. Well, i might be…but i was not crazy to take a 3-year-old on a 3-day road trip adventure by myself. She was so good. Unbelievably good. Practically shining her halo the whole dang time.

Until the last hour and a half or so. Then it was meltdown city. And i was driving in the desert, in the dark, and couldn’t do much about it.

There might be something spiritual and beautiful about driving in the desert at night, but try telling that to a small child who is exhausted from days of travel, and who right this minute just wants her daddy and some chocolate milk.

Thing is, she was alternately crying for home/daddy/teddy, and then demanding to go back to Auntie O’s and the “hotay-el.” Because she had a great time. She liked where we’d been. Part of her wanted to be back there and was sad to be getting close to home. And part of her just wanted her jammies and her big girl bed.

All i can say is–get used to it, kid. Because really, this is how most of us spend much of our lives. We like where we’ve been and what we know–a big part of us wants to go back there. We also like the prospect of where we’re heading, where we almost are. And a big part of us almost always wants to be home–wherever that may be. I think we spend much of our lives trying to figure out where home is, and trying to get away from there, and then trying to get back again.

But as for where we are in the ‘right this minute’ frame of everyday…as for how content we can be in that vast expanse of nighttime desert with mostly static on the radio…well, let’s just say, that’s the place of our meltdowns. Our soul struggles against those in-between-times with a force that might startle us.

And yet, the soul needs those nothing-places–those waiting, transition, and becoming places–if we are ever to be home. If we are ever to be elsewhere. You don’t get anywhere good without driving through the desert.

I do not expect a tired, over-stimulated child to get this. And yet, she sort of does. It’s why she was feeling so overwhelmed and so torn between 2 places. My hope is that she learns young that there is a blessing in that pull, a sacred something in that struggle. Somewhere between where you’ve been and where you’re going, there lives the truth that your life is actually moving. In all that conflict between here and there, it becomes apparent that you’ve got many places to call home, many people who live there to love you, and reasons to wander between them all, again and again and again. Tired though she might be, I plan to keep her moving…and keep her coming home again.

“And the people who love me still ask me, ‘when are you coming back to town?’ 

And I answer, quite frankly, ‘when they stop building roads…

and all God needs is gravity to hold me down.’ “

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About Erin Wathen

Rev. Erin Wathen is the Senior Pastor of Saint Andrew Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Olathe, KS (www.sacchome.org). She's a Kentucky native, a long-time desert dweller, and she writes about the sacred thread that runs through pretty much everything. For more info, click the 'about' tab above...

  • Rachel

    wow…that really explains a lot of how I’ve been feeling lately. Thanks, to you and to Lil’ Miss.

  • http://anothermindstreasure.wordpress.com Another Mind’s Treasure

    I had a similar experience on my 5 day road trip with my 7 year old this summer…who is, it turns out, NOT too old for meltdowns.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1145328295 Hollie Larkey Ancharoff

    Love it! So true, and can really only be deeply understood by those of us that have moved far from “home” to make a home, and love both intently..

  • http://pleemiller.blogspot.com Pam Lee-miller

    I feel like the girl in the backseat today…this is one of your best posts. I love your southern humor—your descriptions…..the way you use your words. I’ve posted this on my facebook page and am giving you a blurb on my own blog….thanks for the smiles today and for holding up a mirror so I could hear myself whine….blessings.


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