Friday, December 28, 2007

Through the Dark

Note: This blog entry happened chronologically before I actually started blogging. Prior to regular blogging, I would occasionally post musings and stories in the form of a Facebook Note. While I have, several years later, converted my Facebook notes into blog entries, I've decided to keep the chronology true to the original posting, regardless of platform.

So, the following is a story I started shortly after the July long weekend. With work, school, and life, I haven't been able to really sit down to it, but was finally able to finish it up today.
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I don’t care if it’s 9:30, Lord, I want to start this camping trip tonight, and I will do everything in my power to see that we do not sleep in this city!

You know I don’t work according to your schedule.

Yes, I know that—otherwise we would have been on the road over two hours ago. I can go with Your flow. As long as Your flow gets us to the mountains.

Dusk was turning into night as I left the city with three friends I hardly knew, my car crammed to the gills with gear. In the backseat, there wasn’t an inch of my friends’ bodies that was not touching a sleeping bag, pillow, or foamy. Up front, my new friend in shotgun sat with several bags at his feet. This was not the original plan. Things got mixed up, and what should have been a two-car convoy turned into a one-car mission. But when had things followed the original plan lately?

As daylight disappeared, clouds began to build. It wasn’t long before the rain came. I had been moving swiftly at nearly 120km/h, but soon after setting the windshield wipers, I found myself slowing and moving only as fast as weather would permit. Occasionally I could speed up, only to slow down just as quickly in heavy spots of rain.

Our music was soon drowned out by the rhythmic beat of the wipers and pelting raindrops that had long since washed the dust off my windshield. We had decided to take secondary highways for the first half of the journey, which, although quieter, did not provide as much security as the well-lit primary highway just kilometers south of us.

Every now and then I caught my muscles tense as I maintained vigilant focus on the road ahead of me. I had to force my shoulders to relax and drop. I turned on my brights, but it was still so hard to see my surroundings. Maybe we should have just stuck to the main highway.

In the back, the two girls slept. My virtual stranger of a front-seat passenger remained awake; this came in helpful as he tried to gauge how far until the next turn, what highway we were looking for, and just where on earth we were. Every now and then, lightning would briefly illuminate everything around us. In the darkness, I couldn’t really tell what direction we were headed. The brief flash of light was the only reassurance that we were really going anywhere. It was the virtual stranger who had the source of information we needed. He held the map, and studied it intensely.

A T-intersection approached quicker than expected; as I heavily applied the brakes, I jolted everyone out of their sleepy state. The car stopped smoothly and flawlessly where it was supposed to.

“Where did that come from?” one friend asked.

“Good thing you’re paying attention!” said my front-seat passenger, “You sure know your car!”

I patted the dash and cooed, “good car; yes, you’re a good car.” We all laughed; well-needed relief as we sat, in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere. It was good not to be alone. We took the opportunity on the deserted road to scrutinize the map. We’d been forced to evaluate our position, and trust that the map could and would still get us where we wanted to go… as long as we interpreted it correctly.

We made our turn, and continued on. The rhythm of the wipers and rain became white noise once more, and the two in the back resumed sleep. They trusted that I could get us there safely. They trusted that I knew my car and that I would follow the directions I was being given. But what about the fact that I could barely see what was ahead of me? What if this wasn’t the best route in the first place? How was I supposed to help them if I couldn’t even be sure of where I was going?

After what seemed like forever, there was a very soft glow on the horizon. A small town. A place to refuel, stretch, and refresh. We took advantage of the opportunity, knowing that the chances of stopping again before our final destination were slim to none.

Returning to a primary highway, my backseat passengers found sleep once more, and although my front-seat passenger remained awake, it was quiet as we continued on, each lost in our own thoughts. It’s like this with life sometimes, isn’t it, Lord? We start off driving into a beautiful sunset, and then out of no where, it rains. And the rain comes pounding down around us so loud that it’s all we can do to not let it consume us. Surrounded by darkness, we are forced to slow down and trust that Your map will get us where we want to go, whether we can see the details or not. And trust that even if we veer off, You will still get us back to the main road. But Lord, will You keep it dark for so long???

Eventually, the two girls in the back roused from what had to be the cushiest yet most uncomfortable sleep they’d probably ever had. “Sunrise!” claimed one cheerfully; the other spoke what I was thinking: “are you kidding me?” I hadn’t really been paying attention, but sure enough, it was getting lighter outside. I double-checked my rearview mirror, which confirmed that there was indeed sunlight on the eastern horizon. We had driven right through the darkness, and had started entering into daylight without even noticing. It had also stopped raining. When had I turned the wipers off?

I turned off the main highway onto the last stretch before reaching our destination. The remainder of the drive was quite pretty, with the sun rising and the highway dipping down into mountain valleys and winding around hills.

We pulled into our campsite and everyone was eager to exit the car. It was five in the morning. We picked our way through the gear to find essentials: tents, foamies, sleeping bags, and pillows. Food could wait, fresh clothes could wait. We had driven all night. We had made it through the dark and the rain. I knew now that it would now be daylight for a long time. It was time to rest.