“if you want to find God, hang out in the space between your thoughts.”
It was summertime, and most of my friends traveled home for the break from school. I had a fulltime job that I loved—and so I stayed. Alone, yet rarely lonely, I spent my days working at the edge of the woods, reconstructing wetland areas and laying down thick layers of mulch while learning my way around the “Ruth Stout” method of gardening.
The days were full of muddy boots, sweat and coyotes.
The nights were full of stripped-down stargazing and dreaming.
I kept a sleeping bag, a tent and a change of clothes in the back of a 1990 Corsica so that I could, on a whim, take off to go anywhere—and anywhere usually ended up being somewhere in Southern Indiana, Kentucky or Tennessee.
There was a draw, of course, to spend these warm nights outdoors and to explore new places, but there was also a therapeutic gift in bringing my full attention to each drive. Minutes collected to form hours—time during which my focus was on little else other than safe roadway movement, methodically-passing highway markers, the feel of a hard, unbroken stream of wind against my hand outside of the window…and whatever great song was playing on the radio or one of the mixed cassette tapes that were a permanent fixture in that car. Turned up loud enough to be heard above the wind and the highway, these songs came together to create roadway soundtracks that were good enough to carve out lasting spaces in my memory.
With two beautiful kids to love and care for, the days of hopping into my car and taking off for a couple of nights, solo-style, are (for now) behind me. Still, I find comfort in the emptying joy of a long stretch of road through shorter drives when I’m feeling a little overwhelmed, or my mind simply needs a time-out.
We can reach for larger things, systems and techniques to help keep us grounded and sane, but it’s often in learning to completely be with the little, seemingly mundane moments, that routinely greet or pass by us in life, where we find the most solace.
Meditation can be found in any experience that helps us to quiet the ongoing chatter in our mind and to deepen an awareness of our own being and our connection with everything around us.
It can be found in the planned and expected.
It can be found in the aimless and unintended.
Sometimes I find it along the open road.
“when this wonderful world gets heavy
and i need to find my escape
i just keep the wheels rolling,
—maren morris, “my church”
(bella grace, autumn 2017)