This morning I left my house, not knowing where I was going. All I knew was this:
- I was going to head north on a particular state highway, at least at first.
- I was probably going to drive all day.
- This was the first day of a several-day trip.
- One of the goals of this trip was to walk a bunch of labyrinths.
- One of the goals of today was to figure out just what questions I wanted to try to find answers for at these labyrinths.
I started out, heading from my house toward that highway. As I drove through my township, I saw lots of leaves and sticks on the wet road. It wasn’t raining now, but it sure rained yesterday. Buckets and buckets and bushels and barrels. But now it was over. There was still a post-rain wind, but the rain was done. It was now after the storm. As I drove, it occurred to me that my entire seven-year time in this township was indeed after the storm. I had moved in just a few days after “Superstorm Sandy” plowed through in 2012. We moved into a house that had no electricity, heat, or running water for five days. (It’s been mostly uphill since then!)
As I continued driving, it then occurred to me that in a way, our entire lives are spent after the storm, since the very first thing that happens to us at birth is that our watery nine-month existence suddenly ends, and we feel the air on our skin for the very first time. Traumatic for sure, and something we spend years trying to understand and figure out. I believe this is why “Great Flood” stories are so common in ancient mythologies — we all went through a “Great Flood” experience at the moment of our birth. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is where the water imagery of baptism comes from either.
So I started to think that perhaps this was a theme for the trip, or at least for the morning: after the storm. And then this happened:
I wasn’t more than twenty miles from home, and I saw this rainbow. What better sign could there be that After the Storm was my theme today? It felt so perfect, so wonderful.
But then, just ten minutes after taking that photo, it started to rain. Just lightly. I figured there was just a little leftover from yesterday. But as I kept driving, taking that same state highway further than I’d ever gone before, further than I even knew it went, the rain got harder and more constant. By the time I stumbled across the state line, it was just plain raining. Overcast and grey and raining and raining. The buckets were back.
Well, what does this mean, I wondered? What does After the Storm mean if the storm comes back? I thought, maybe I’ll find out once this storm stops. Maybe the next step on today’s journey will occur after this storm. Well, that step was a long, long time coming. It was a wonderful drive, though. I listened to Doctor Who podcasts. I binge-listened to the Parasitecology podcast. Highly recommended, by the way — but it’s quite strange. I also spent a lot of time in silence, or talking to myself, trying to get some direction for this trip. “After the storm” is a cute phrase, but how does that translate into questions I can ask when I get to the labyrinths tomorrow? I never quite figured that out. But writing is helpful. Maybe I can figure it out in real time here. Here are some possible questions for tomorrow:
- What does it mean that my current life is all “after the storm”?
- What storms am I living through right now?
- Where does God fit into the storms in my life? Where does God fit in after them?
- I still have a baptismal font sitting in my garage, unmoved from when I first acquired it over a year ago. What am I supposed to do with it?
I’m in an interesting place regarding my book Darkwater. It’s been accepted by a publisher, but now I’m in a holding pattern waiting for a conceptual editor to contact me. A few questions can relate to that:
- The “storm” of not knowing if it would ever be published is over. But emotionally, I’ve had a hard time moving on from that. What do I still need in order to complete that process?
- I’m now in a new “storm” — not knowing what will happen to the manuscript. Will I have to change it significantly? Will I have hard choices to make there? And will it sell? Will anybody read it, or care? What do I need while in that storm?
Well, that’s six questions right there. Not a bad start. So here I am in Buffalo, New York, hundreds of miles from home, spending the night in a reasonably-priced, reasonably-nice motel. The plan is to chill out the rest of tonight, get a good night’s sleep, and then set off first thing in the morning. I have mapped out the locations of twenty-nine labyrinths in western New York. (Thanks to this excellent tool.) Certainly I won’t walk that many tomorrow. But I’ll head out in the morning, and take my first six questions into the first six labyrinths. I’ll journal about each of the questions, and blog something about them as well. Hopefully through those first six questions, more questions will arise for the seventh and subsequent ones. I have no idea how many I’ll get to tomorrow. Maybe six? Maybe twelve? Maybe I’ll also stop at a park or a wildlife refuge and hike. Or maybe I’ll find a nice coffeehouse in which to write. Or maybe — who knows?
All I know now is that the first day is ending. I have driven to Buffalo. Now I start heading home, the slow way. Hopefully, the enlightening way.