Saturday, January 23, 2016

Whether to Weather the Weather

Maybe it's just because I'm getting older. Maybe it's because the weather was particularly bad this time around. Whatever the reason, I found my last trip to my favorite (only) retreat spot to be very stressful, and treacherous at times.

It's a long drive; usually takes me a total of 5-1/2 to 6 hours depending on how many stops I make and how much time I spend at those stops. There are basically three legs to the journey, as I see it. On the way to my retreat, the first leg takes me out of town, over a mountain pass, and then down into the lovely John Day River valley. The trek over the pass was unpleasant. It was snowing. It had been snowing. Thanks be to God, there was very little traffic (which is usually the case). I get anxious when I have a car behind me wanting me to go faster.

At a certain point, the road conditions improved markedly, and I thought, "Aha! This has been recently plowed!" Sure enough, a caught up with the snow plow. I was happy to follow along behind, but alas, the driver turned off before we got past the snowfall!

The snow plow is barely visible, but it's there in the center of the photo,
sending up a spray of snow behind it.
Once over the pass, the snow was practically gone. What a relief! So the second leg of the journey began on a pleasant note...or at least a less-treacherous one. But another pass - Ochoco Pass -  loomed ahead, and it I was a little anxious about that. in God! That pass was not bad at all - just a few signs of slushy snowy icy stuff on a mostly clear road. The third leg was also clear of snow and ice.

The return trip was a different matter. 

On the major highway, it was snowing and raining, and there was plenty of icy slush on the road. Plus, there's traffic there, and not everyone drives carefully! I saw one car that had spun out and ended up on the side of the road facing the wrong direction; no injuries, and I think the same vehicle passed me later on!

I do not like driving in this stuff, especially since my little car does not
have 4-wheel-drive! (I was practically at a stop to take this photo, with no other
vehicles in sight!)
The Ochoco Pass was snowy this time. And when it wasn't snowing, it was raining. The road wasn't bad...but neither was it good! Once over the pass, the road was clear of snow, but it was raining. And it had been raining. As I passed through a little town halfway along this leg, a police car appeared in my rear view mirror, with lights flashing. I was dismayed, thinking, "I'm not speeding!" But the officer passed me by and continued on the road. It turns out he was on his way to a section of a little canyon where rocks fall frequently. A huge boulder was fully blocking one lane of of the two-lane road,  on a blind curve, and a bulldozer was trying to remove it. The officer had placed flares to warn travelers. This is not a busy highway, so things were not as bad as you might expect.

The John Day valley was again easily traveled, though the rain continued. Then...the final leg. Over Dixie Summit again, up to Austin Junction, and down the mountain. Snow. Snow. Snow. White-out conditions in a couple of places. This leg, which generally takes me about an hour and 45 minutes, took an hour longer than that. I did not take any photos along that stretch; even though I was mostly alone on the road, I didn't want to stop to snap a picture - I just wanted to get home! The photo below is on the very last 10-mile stretch before home. 

In the almost 12 years I've been making this bi-monthly trip, this was the worst driving I'd seen; so all in all, that's a pretty good track record, I guess. But I found it quite exhausting! Still, as I usually do, once I reached my destination, I sat back and considered that, "Well, it could have been worse!"

Looking back on it, though, it's just a condensed version of life, isn't it? The ups and downs, the storms and calms, the bad weather and good. In our travels, we must trust God, while making prudent travel decisions as well! (In retrospect, I wish I'd put my trip off by a week; but there is no predicting weather in this part of the country!) Usually, we can look back and say, "It could have been worse. Thank God it wasn't!"  The same "travel" analogy holds for our spiritual life as well, I'm sure you will agree. That is why I pray every day to the Archangel Raphael - for safe travels through life, whether that involves physical, emotion, or spiritual travel.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!

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