It's funny how a road trip can take you places you don't expect.
Today I worked 2/3 of the day in the office, and then had to leave for some meetings in Athens this week. Methodist pastors have historically gathered for an "annual conference" which serves as a time for worship, business, and the setting of assignments for the next year.
I didn't turn on the radio, and just enjoyed the view. Let my mind wander. Got caught up in some stories from today and days gone by. It almost seemed like prayer though I wasn't directing any words or asking for anything.
Now if you'd checked Mapquest you WOULD NOT have followed my path. I chuckled at the thought of being the "Anti Mapquest." But it's an area between Augusta and Athens that I know fairly well. I hadn't intended on the "back way" though some slow traffic, congestion, road work, etc. seemed to divert me to the back roads. So, I took them confident I'd reach my destination.
I noticed the farmland suffering from the drought and burning under the August heat that's set in on us here in early June.
I took a dirt road at one point. It's Stagecoach Road. Made me wonder if any of the old Methodist pastors from 100 years ago or more would have taken that route. Here I was in my van (a Dodge Caravan :) with a suitcase, a backpack, and a few shirts and jackets for a few days in Athens. Back then they would have their life possessions with them, and not know their appointment for the next year until the Bishop read it out!
As I drove a little further, nearing Washington, I thought of a conversation of the day. A friend I conspire with to do ministry in the inner city had told me about one of the middle school girls who had to move out of her house into my friend's home. The girl lives in one of those situations where her grandmother has custody, yet there are lots of different people "in and out" of the house all hours. Think of a bunch of men hanging out at the front porch and you get the idea. One other teen girl who lives there just delivered a baby, and another girl is pregnant. This child takes the door knob off her door when she goes to bed and barricades the door. Late last week, around 2 AM one night, a man tried to get into the room. My friend found out the next day, and moved the girl out.
That story nagged at my heart and mind for many miles.
As I continued to travel through Wilkes County, just north of Washington, I recalled a visit by my "Navy brother" a few years back. He'd been on ship for a long cruise, had to attend some training on the east coast, and was to then fly out of Atlanta. That gave him a day and a half with us before the flight. He was a little stir crazy after being on an aircraft carrier for so long. So we visited and drove around the beautiful, rolling countryside of Wilkes County. It was a great time together as he dreamed about some farmland and we enjoyed catching up even as we enjoyed getting out.
9/11 interrupted that serenity. His flight was canceled, yet as an officer he had to report to duty on ship in San Diego that Saturday. So, my brother did what any person under command and with a high sense of honor and duty would do. He rented a car and drove nonstop so that he would be at his post.
Interesting adventure this afternoon as I traveled from Augusta to Athens. I'm reminded of the danger some face, the sense of honor and duty some have, and the mission frontier that still exists and calls for a response.
Maybe I'll take this route again next time.