Roads Go Ever On and On

A beautiful drive through the San Andres mountains.

I’m back in California.

My brother is a gem and a brick, and graciously helped drive me and a trunk full of my worldly possessions accross the wild wild west. We laughed, listened to Jonathan Strange and Mister Norrel, and ate a copious amount of skittles and pringles. What else are road trips for?

Yesterday we woke early and drove into the stark and striking landscape of Arizona. The road stretched out on the otherwise untouched land like an old scab on the skin on the western visage. We listened to swelling violins sing from my cars old stereo and sipped our much needed coffee as we sped down the road. Have you ever thought about how crazy it is that we can sit in a metal box (aka car) and whiz eighty miles per hour down the freeway? I have. And I think it’s wild.

As sun crept higher in the sky, burning off the pink morning light, I was struck with how many places my feet have touched in the last while. In the last three weeks, my feet have stood on British cobblestones, Colorado snow, New Mexico clay, Arizona dust, Nevada asphalt, and California concrete. Sometimes it feels like no sooner have my feet hit the ground somewhere that I love, that my feet are set running to the next location. Whether it is Oxford, Christmas break, or a graduating semester, there is always something, a beckoning on, that pulls me to the next place and the next path. Lately, I often find myself humming the words of Tolkien’s famous poem:

“The Road goes ever on and on

Down from the door where it began.

Now far ahead the Road has gone,

And I must follow, if I can…”

And I will follow if I can.

So there I was, following again the push and pull of life’s road.

An hour into our drive, we drove under a bridge with a large sign marked “Parks Road.”

In Oxford I walked on Parks Road every day; it was the road to the library, so the road and I became great friends. I tromped down those streets the first week, with the trees hanging with leaves as green as I was when I first went to get my first book out of the Bodleian. I walked along as the path turned gold with withering leaves and autumnal light. I walked along that path as the sky turned gray, squishing the decomposing leaves beneath my booted feet as the leaves returned to the ground from which they came. To walk there was to feel the rhythm of nature pulsing beneath your feet, the growing the dying, the rebirth.

I thought of that as we passed under the bridge marked “Park Roads.” I looked down the road leading off the bridge and it stretched on and on to a disappearing point. Those two Parks Roads are so different. One stretching on like a line in a graph to who-knows-where and eternity. As I intersect with it, I am reminded of my smallness, and my encounter with eternity, as time stretches out from me to the past and the future. The other road reminds me of the eternal cadence of life. Birthing and growing. Coming and going. Living and Dying.

The roads are different, but they both seem to embody my experience of life.

I think life is a mixture of circles and lines.

Like Parks Road in Oxford, life is full of cycles and the things we return to. No matter where I roam, I carry people in my heart whom I will always return to. I leave, but I always return. There are seasons of life as regular as the changing leaves on Parks road. That is comforting.

But life is also a line, stretching out where we can’t see. As I peer down the end of my life’s line, I find it too has a disappearing point. Life after graduation lies just beyond my line of vision, and it fills me with a sense of excitement. Life has been beautiful and God has been good thus far, so I look to the future with hopeful expectation. As Proverbs says, I smile at the future.

And yet, there is sometimes a sense of unease in the unknown. Where will this road lead? Where will this next circle lead me back to? And, perhaps at the bottom of it all, where will I belong in the end?

photo 2 (1)He sings, he drives across country to help you, he loves God… Ladies, take note.

7 hours, 4 stops, and many miles later. Joel and I pulled up to my new apartment. Elena, my old (and soon to be current) roommate, looked up at the black and white building. I had no idea what it would be like. After talking to housing, the women gave me a selection of apartments, and I practically closed my eyes and pointed my finger at an apartment number. I suppose you could say this was a very small part of the vanishing point in the road I couldn’t see. Two girls (who were both currently home for break) already lived there.

As I opened the door I was greeted with a lovely living room, christmas lights smiling from above a comfy couch, Van Gogh prints hanging classily on the wall, and, perhaps most amusing of all, a British flag.

On the wall in front of the door to my room, there was a lovely painting hanging with the words “Be filled with Joy.” I laughed to myself.

The prophecy is fulfilled. I thought. I have arrived.

photo 1 (1)

I think God has a great sense of humour. It’s one of my favorite things about Him; where I find His work, I find laughter. It was a small thing, but as I settled in, I was thankful for that sign. It was like a humorous little reminder that wherever I go, God is watching and caring for me. I reminded me that I am, as Psalm 139 says, hemmed in before and behind by the loving hand of God. There is no where I can go that He is not with me. His love is in the force that pulls me down the road, and gives life to the rhythm of life. He’s in the circles and the lines. I don’t know where they’ll lead, but I shall follow if I can.

What an adventure life is.

And with that, I’m off to the very adventurous task of buying flour and sugar with Elena. I wish you all well with the circles and lines of life.

So long.

Joyness.

The Road goes ever on and on

Down from the door where it began.

Now far ahead the Road has gone,

And I must follow, if I can,

Pursuing it with eager feet,

Until it joins some larger way,

Where many paths and errands meet.

And whither then? I cannot say.

 

Joy Clarkson
Joy Clarkson is a featured columnist and the Director of Marketing at Humane Pursuits. She is a graduate of Biola University, and also spent time as a visiting student at Oxford University studying C.S. Lewis, Literature, and Theology. Her days are spent helping people and companies tell their stories well, pondering, writing, singing, and drinking too much Yorkshire Gold tea.

Comments are closed.