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The Great American Road Trip

What is it that keeps us moving? What are we looking for?

I’ve wondered about this all my life.  When we’ve got literally everything we could ever want or need at our fingertips, why do so many of us keep wandering the varied landscape, as if it can tell us some deep and abiding truth of the soul?

Maybe because it can…

I don’t know if i could tell you what that truth is, but i glimpse it every time i travel. Maybe it’s because our friends and family (as Harper calls them, “our peoples”) live all over the country, and it takes a good bit of travel to stay connected. Maybe it’s because we are story people, and we crave an occasional change of context. Maybe it takes a shift in wind and weather to make us come truly alive. Are we born with the gypsy soul, or does it come from nurture?

Either way, our kids are going to find it a part of their lives. At least, as long as we are the boss of them… And once they’re grown, I think they’ll find the compulsion to roam has taken root in them, and they will feel grounded, even on the move. I can only hope as much for them.

But it isn’t just our family that carries this gene. In many ways, the road trip lives at the heart of American spirit and identity. I mean, where else can you enjoy the cuisine of every part of the world, experience pretty much every climate zone and landscape imaginable, find wilderness right next door to great culture, and be as much a part of community–or as isolated–as you care to be?

For all the ugliness of our politics, some days you’ve just got to say: God Bless America, folks. I love this place, and the blood that beats a wandering rythm through our concrete arteries. I am finally (yeah, i know, i’m a few years behind) reading Lonesome Dove. And while i didn’t plan it to be my sabbatical reading material, it is really pretty perfect. This prologue quote says it all:

“All America lies at the end of the wilderness road, and our past is not a dead past, but still lives in us. Our  forefathers had civilization inside themselves, the wild outside. We live in the civilization they created, but within us the wilderness still lingers. What they dreamed, we live, and what they lived, we dream…” –T.K. Whipple

Yeah…what he said.

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Woodrow Call’s got nothing on me.

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I like churros…

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Only in America, folks…

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...

  • Lounell Chenevert

    Erin – you know I love you , but I think leftist liberals in this country are some of the most patriotic people I know. Usually, they love this country and want the best this country can offer for all its people!!! Lou

  • http://practicingresurrection.wordpress.com Bill

    The Whipple quote is great. Thanks for posting it.
    May you enjoy your travels. I used to have wanderlust and spent lots of time travelling. These days I’m content to stay home. Whereas so folks never have it, and some never lose it, some (it seems to me) use all theirs up.
    peace


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