Stay on the road and don’t look back

by | Oct 3, 2022 | Faith | 6 comments |

The physical road

On Saturday morning, thanks to Ian’s wind and rain, Keith and I woke to leaves and debris scattered across the driveway and the neighborhood road. The road—that’s pretty much all we talk about during the annual meeting every third Saturday in October. The road, our physical lifeline to the outside world.

Staying on the road is essential, since the downside of the mountain road features steep drops into deep ravines. Keeping one’s eyes on the road ahead is also essential, for driving and walking. But life’s metaphorical road is a different story.

The emotional road

In the 2020 movie News of the World, Tom Hanks plays an aging Confederate officer who makes a meager living traveling by horse cart to towns, settlements, and encampments in rural Texas and reading newspaper stories to local residents for a small fee. In a series of events, he becomes responsible for a child who has been twice orphaned, losing her birth family to the Kiowa and her Kiowa family to the Army. As the two travel along, Hanks gives his charge some advice: “Stay on the road, the path, the ‘line,’ and don’t look back.”

Staying on the road would have made a boring movie, and of course, that’s not what happened. Also, looking back was exactly what Hank’s character and his young charge needed to do. We all do in order to know who we are and where we’re going—and to heal past wounds. I would posit that we need to look forward, back, and all around in order to find our life paths, our missions, especially in the third stage of life.

The mission road

It took me a while to find my road, my mission path, after retirement. And even then, writing and publishing weren’t and aren’t easy. Nothing worthwhile ever is. What’s the old saying? Life is a journey, not a destination.

So, on Saturday, after writing this post and drafting another for The Sage Forum November newsletter, I drove down the mountain road to get the mail. Cato puppy braved the rain and stuck his head out the open side windows, one after the other, sniffing and watching for critters. We saw more debris—this picture taken on the way back up the mountain. This week, after the storm has passed, I’ll clean up the driveway and toss branches and sticks off the road when Cato and I walk to the mailbox. Keeping the road clear for us and our neighbors is part of my mission.

The roads we traverse—physical, emotional, and missional—are long and winding, with more detours than straight lines. But, looking back, I’d say the roads I took made all the difference.

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  1. Sandra K Stein

    That was such a good movie.

    • Carole Duff


    • aschmeisser

      Satchel Paige, he said it best,
      and I’ve found it to be true,
      that it’s foolish to look back lest
      something’s gaining up on you.
      Just get on, and better hurry
      to whatever’s up ahead,
      and leave the zombie dead to bury
      all their rank and rotting dead.
      I don’t intend no disrespect,
      but the past has had its day,
      and if I stop, pause to reflect,
      I’ll just get in my own way
      in the evening’s coming loom
      at the door to my own tomb.

      • Carole Duff

        Another delightful poem – thank you!

  2. Linda

    I think we have to be aware of our motives in looking back. It is healthy to remember where we came from and see how God has worked in our lives. Yet, sometimes we look back with longing, coveting what is past. Sometimes we look back with regret over things Jesus has already taken, and so we fail to acknowledge the grace we have. While looking back, we must properly steward the present. “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, …” It sounds like you are being wise. ♥ Thank you for sharing.

    • Carole Duff

      Thank you for the comment, Linda.


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