One month ago we pulled away from my parent’s house in a big blue bus. Everything felt foreign and surreal and very, very exciting, sort of like when I first showed up for junior high looking forward to having my own locker. We drove just under two hours and arrived in Gettysburg unscathed. So began the trip we had always dreamed of taking.
Then an interesting turn of events. Our heavenly visions of cruising the country, listening to Willie Nelson and Tom Petty, the wind blowing through our hair while the children sat in the back learning multiple foreign languages, collided with reality. I got the bus stuck in a ditch. The waste tank was difficult and time consuming to empty. The two youngest kids got sick, and I got stressed out. It was like when the first few weeks of junior high passed and I realized that everything and everyone, including me, was difficult and weird and very, very awkward.
Then came the day, about two weeks into our journey, when we drove into North Carolina. A driving rain caused a steady drip to fall in through the emergency escape hatch and on to the floor in the small hallway. All four kids slept in the back: peace on earth. Maile sat perched in the passenger’s seat, and she turned to me with a strange look on her face.
“This isn’t exactly what we expected, is it?”
I just shook my head. Then I looked at her. We both started laughing.
“If we’re going to keep going,” I said, the words barely escaping through the laughter, “we need a serious attitude adjustment.”
Maile said a little prayer for us right there inside Willy as we flew through that rainy afternoon in North Carolina. A prayer for peace. For chill-outedness. For the wisdom to drop our worry and obsession about tomorrow like the waste we emptied out of the bus every three to four days.
And it kind of worked.
We decided to enjoy each day as it happened. If we only ever looked forward to GETTING THERE, we’d never enjoy HERE. We stopped letting minor obstacles steal our joy. We tried to embrace what Henri Nouwen refers to as the “Here and Now.” It took us two weeks and 1500 miles, but we started catching on.
Then, from the ashes of our worries and the remnants of our stress rose the hint of beautiful things: stunning friendships, the glaring light of opportunity, and that peculiar thing called “a love of adventure.”
The most intriguing part is that nothing has changed. Willie is still Willie. Our kids still occasionally overwhelm us as their energy erupts in this small space. Diesel prices continue to climb. We don’t know where we’re going to live when it’s all over, and I’m still trying to line up some projects for the second half of the year. Nothing has changed.
Yet everything has changed – I found peace in the most unlikeliest of places. Even a place as unique as a forty-foot bus.
Where’s the strangest place you’ve ever found peace?
7 Replies to “The Power of Prayer and an Empty Waste Tank: Our First Month on the Road”
This is off the subject but yesterday I saw a copy of your book “My Amish Roots” in the hands of Dan Byler, Lydia Schmid’s brother. Do you have copies to sell with you on “Willie”? If so I would like to buy a copy. I live in the little brown house in the same parking lot you are.
I do have copies. I’ll drop one by your house.
One of the stangest places I have found peace has been in Mexico. I have been there 7-8 times mostly on Mission trips, but the last few years I have been in Juarez working at an orphanage. When I tell people that I am going on a construction team to Juarez people flip out. They say things like, “Are you crazy”, or “That is the most dangerous city in the world.” The fact is people in dangerous places still need help and I find that when I am there I have a peace about the danger. Like Paul said, “To live is Christ, to die is gain.”
I found peace today in my classroom, as my boss, the school Administrator, told me that, due to budget cuts, I would not be offered a contract next year. We just bought a house, a few months ago. My wife is 19 weeks pregnant. I have no idea what I’m going to do, but strangely, I found peace there. I’ve been discontent in my job years. I’ve been praying for God to bring me a new job for a long time. I’ve been praying for open and closed doors. Today, I got a closed door. I’m excited, because it means God is going to open a new and more exciting door very soon!
I really enjoy following your travels from back here in PA. Things aren’t any better any where else, just different. I hope that you continue to experience peace on your journey.
Are there pictures of Willy?
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