I never walk down one road without thinking of the other. I grew up on a road eight miles outside of a small farming community. It took us fifteen minutes to drive into town. We didn’t do this every day. Five neighbors called our road home. In my younger years, our mailing address was simply known as Rural Route 4.
There was a little country church on this road too. The busiest traffic days were when the church would host a wedding or a funeral or a soup supper. Its doors always remained unlocked until last year, when she locked her doors for good. The cemetery across the road is the final resting place for many of my relatives. We’d take flowers to their gravesides every Memorial Day. Sometimes though, on any old ordinary day, I’d slip away to visit the church and the cemetery.
My mom and I used to take walks on our road when the weather got nice. We’d take whatever dogs we happened to have at the time. I don’t think we owned a leash. They’d just walk right by us natural as can be. They knew their place was by their owner’s side. The woods across the road held hidden patches of morel mushrooms in the spring. The thicket along the side of our property offered up blackberries in July.
Some people grow up thinking how they can’t wait to leave the small town where they grew up. I wasn’t one of those people. I just followed the path life had laid out for me. That’s how I ended up here. I’m so thankful it’s just a few miles outside another small town.
On another dirt road. Thousands of miles and a whole lifetime from the one of my childhood. Every time I set out on this one, to take a walk or pick some berries (the mushrooms still elude us), I think of the other one. I long for my mom who lives so far away, who was always up for a walk. I remember all the dogs who joined us. I think of my daddy who rests in that cemetery we often visited as a child. I wish I still lived just down the road from a church who never locked its doors.
If you’ve never lived on a dirt road, you don’t understand what it’s like to turn onto that road, see nothing but fields, green grass and trees and know you’re almost home. You’ve not experienced the thrill of seeing the one or two cars drive down the road on any particular day. You have no way of knowing how it settles in your soul. How even though you might try the city for a while, home is on a dirt road.
We read in Scripture that our final dwelling place is a heavenly city. The new Jerusalem. I suppose that’s true. Still, I hope I’ll have a very long lane going to my home in that city. A long lane that sort of resembles a dirt road.