Golden Arch

I was at a conference this week.  Which meant i slept in a hotel room, without my kids.

Since I moved to the west, I’ve learned a valuable lesson about travel–always try and get there the day before anything important happens. An ’8am’ start time does not sound so bad at first glance. But then you remember that, to your body, 8am will really mean 5am, which means getting up at pretty much 4am, and well…it is just good to leave a window for adjustment.

Anyway, I got there on the evening before. And did i mention, i was without my kids?? (If you are, or have ever been, the parent of a small child, you will know that the perks of solo travel include sleeping past the hour of chocolate milk emergency…)  Upon arrival, I spent some time with some friends, had a beer and a (prescribed and legit!) muscle relaxer, and went to bed planning to sleep at least 10 blissful, undisturbed hours.

I mean, i am married to a seasoned hotel manager. I should have known better. I should have known that, by 6am (4am Phoenix time!) my room (right next to the elevator) would be filled with a symphony of sounds, including luggage rolling across (what sounded like) gravel; the elevator bell; people shouting down the hall to one another; morning traffic; and the slow groan of hot water trying to knock its way up 10 floors worth of pipes, in a 40 year old building. The white noise app on my phone did nothing to muffle the song of a big city coming to life on a weekday morning.

Feeling more than a little disgruntled, i got out of bed, and wondered how quickly I could get a cup of coffee and be back to my room; and how many colleagues i might encounter before i had put any make up on. My head stuffed with jet lag cotton, I stumbled to the window, and opened the blinds…and was met with a spectacular sunrise, throwing an orange, dancing light against the iconic St Louis arch.

Here was the tribute to westward expansion, lit up like something holy and not entirely of this world. And i was reminded (as i am so often reminded) that on any given day, my ‘plans,’ or what i think are my plans, are disrupted by real life… and real life almost always has something better, just waiting to be claimed. If i could count the number of times i was made to get out of bed–or some other place of relative comfort–before I was good and ready, only to find that God had some other (and better) calling for my day…well, I cannot count that high. If i could, maybe I would stop being so surprised when I encounter this gospel truth, in all its shining promise.

Pioneers who settled the west–and those of us who have flocked here in the generations since–have a longing to encounter this good news in the flesh, and maybe we are a little bit more likely to recognize it when it meets us in the street. Or in a sunrise, or in a stranger, or in the next great surprise that life has waiting for us. What we plan/imagine/dream for oursevles is usually just a small glimpse of what might actually be waiting for us. And we usually have to get out of a comfortable place in order to find it…

Yes, this was the actual view from my room. And no, i did not take this actual picture. Some other person captured the same image, standing on what must have been the same spot, on another day. I love the internets.

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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...


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