THE ROADS LESS TRAVELED

tractor

My anxiety was at an all time high that morning. I could feel the knot rising in my throat and my heart racing in my chest. Crazy enough, the anticipation wasn’t because I had to meet a tight deadline, that I was speaking to a room full of people, or sending the littles off to do something new.

All I was doing was getting ready to drive my car.

Sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. That morning I was headed to another town to work, so I wouldn’t be taking my normal route, the same route I take every day without fail. Today, I would have to take a different route, one that I had not traveled for a couple of years, and one that I was nervous about traveling alone. I’m an anxious person, most days I can control it, some I just can’t. Today was one of those days.

I was extremely thankful that morning that the weather was nice, cold, but nice. The roads were free from snow and ice, which had they been present, would have brought on a whole new level of anxiety.

I dropped the littles off at school, told the map app on my phone where I wanted to go, and began embarking on my adventure for the day.

About 15 miles into my trip, I remembered a day, a couple of years ago, when I was headed in the same direction. The road conditions were much different that day, the two-lane highways were packed with ice and snow, and I was terrified. My knuckles turned white as I gripped the steering wheel, my heart pounded, and I prayed that I could make it to my location safely. That day, as I turned onto the highway, there he was, sent from God, a farmer on a tractor, with a snow plow. I’m not sure what was on his agenda for the day, my assumption was that he was going from neighbor to neighbor, blading their driveways, like most good-hearted farmers do. What I am sure wasn’t on his agenda was easing my anxiety and giving me a lesson on taking it slow and enjoying what’s immediately in front of me, unbeknownst to him, that is exactly what he did that day. I followed him for five miles that day, going twenty miles per hour. I watched him look from left to right at the countryside as he drove, and instead of getting angry that we were moving slowly, I let him teach me a lesson about slowing down and taking things in. Two years later, I remembered him and heeded his lesson.

With the reminder, I decided that I will not be anxious, I will be present and appreciate this drive today, soaking in all that is around me…and that is exactly what I did.

The first thing I noticed were the husbands and wives, working as a team, with their round bales loaded on the back of their trucks, bringing the hay to pasture.

And then the cattle, who were obviously anticipating the arrival of their dear farmer as the speed increased in their steps and they all moved excitedly in the same direction.

Then there were the barn lights in the distance…I began wondering about the people inside and what was on their to do list this early in the morning. My guess was there were chores to be done, tractors to be prepared for spring, a fence that needed repaired? The glow from the barns were beautiful as they lit up the side of the hills in perfect harmony with the dawn.

As I passed each older farm house, I noticed the character that was in each of the front doors. There was so much detail put into the front door of a home back then, the wood was warm, the designs etched in them ornate, a welcoming vibe radiated from the front entrances of their homes. Doors are different now, and I realized the symbolism behind them along with how much they have changed…we aren’t just losing the ornate doors….

Out here, every single person I passed waved. My favorite part of being in a rural area! Here, there is a “smiling and waving at stranger’s” kind of kindness present all around. These people don’t know me, and probably never will, yet without hesitation, they wave. I realize, in town, you can’t really do that because you would basically be driving with your hand in the air at all times…but it’s such a small gesture, one that says, “I see you”, “Hello”, “Glad you’re here”. It always reminds me of my dad, who without fail, waves at every vehicle on the highway… sadly, it happens less and less these days that folks return the wave.

I arrived in the cute little town of Albany that morning and took in all of the small-town hustle and bustle that was going on around me. There is something so very special about small towns, there is so much pride present, and sense of community. I was warmly welcomed by the sweetest technology caregivers, who treated me as though I had been there a hundred times and was considered a friend, even though this was my first visit. This was small town living at it’s best. We are blessed to live in a region where small town kindness still exists, where help thy neighbor is not a thing of the past, but an everyday occurrence in the present. We are blessed to live and work in places that when we do take time to stop and smell the roses, we realize that we are abundantly surrounded by beautiful ones.

On my way home that night, I witnessed the most beautiful sunset and the perfect ending to my day. It’s like God strategically placed the beams of light that were shining through the thick clouds to create a masterpiece in the sky that only an artist of his magnitude could create. Just like all the other things that he strategically placed throughout my day to remind me of how very fortunate all of us are to be right here where we are today.

Next time you are en route to a location, I recommend that you go off the beaten path and take the road less traveled…there really is so much hidden beauty to be found if you just slow down to see it. 🙂

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