I’ve always loved traveling west.
Perhaps it’s because I grew up on tales of the Wild West or, like my father, acquired a certain love for Louis L’Amour’s words of the magic and grandeur found westward. Perhaps it’s because upon my first lengthy trip westward of the Pine Curtain, I discovered the most fantastic landscape, first loving the wise oaks of Central Texas and their gnarled-with-age limbs, then the vast openness of West Texas. Yes, I even loved the dirt and rocks, the sparse trees, and roads-cut-through-hills and the rainbows that we thus passed. This was my first realization of how big the world really was, for I could see miles and miles beyond anything I had ever seen before. Simply, I was awe-struck. Though not particularly the adventurous type, and at the time quite content in my East Texas home, I felt a pang in my heart, an echo of the ancient call to “Go West.”
And so, I am inching my way Westward. Now, I regularly travel a stretch of Highway 84 from Palestine to Waco, and while it means driving away from home, it is perhaps my favorite part of the round trip. It was on my first time making this trip, now four years ago, that I first spied the towers and spires of the place that would become my second home, where the seeds planted in my first 18 years would flourish and I would stretch and grow alongside my beloved oaks and their gnarled limbs.
While it might sound strange to say that one loves a piece of highway, it has in many ways become a dear friend. It is a connecting thread between my two homes, well acquainted with reunions, farewells, arguments, rants, impassioned stories, and general wonder at it all. It has become the space where I process the events of each home, where I realize my growth and see that I am not the same person I was the last time I made this drive. It is where I have shouted my righteous anger at how this world works and where I have wrestled to be still and know.
This piece of road is a blessing and oh so beautiful, and I thank God for the grace found in this time, the grace of driving west. For in all the chaos of my two homes, Lord knows I need this road so desperately. I need this sounding board, this solitude, this reminder that oak trees are so beautifully gnarled because they have endured a lot, and this touch of beauty as I chase sunsets over the hills of Central Texas.
Perhaps it is an echo of a different call; something about “as far as the east is from the west” and about “my grace is sufficient” that draws me westward. Perhaps I won’t know the precise what or why or how it all fits together until I have stopped my slow movement west. In the meanwhile, it’s a comfort to know that, as I inch westward, there’s an overabundance of the much-needed grace in the getting there.