The Road Ahead
Guest posts are always special to me. I understand how busy everyone’s life is and am appreciative when someone takes time to share their thoughts and ideas with me and with the readers of Birth of a Novel. As special as all my guest posters are, I have to confess this week’s guest holds a unique place in heart. We share the same heritage.
Meet my cousin, Linda Ballou – Linda is a mother, a grandmother, an involved member of her community, and an accomplished artist, both as a painter and a photographer. Linda is ten years younger than I am. I watched her grow from a cute little red-headed imp into the accomplished and deeply spiritual woman she is today.
Today Psalm 46 is my favorite psalm. Perhaps it will always be. Perhaps it is because I am such a fearful child of God, child of the Lord of Hosts . . . who is with us. Having memorized this psalm, I hoped to remember it when I faced difficult circumstances, you know, like the earth giving way or the mountains falling into the heart of the sea, but maybe even in the midst of ordinary threats others face without dread, like driving on interstate highways or in city traffic. I chose to do that yesterday, and I am ashamed of it, but I was truly frightened. Psalm 46 came gently to mind, helping me.
I grew up on a country road that dead-ended at my house, a lane really, narrow and obstinate. Daddy worked hard to keep our little road from falling back into obscurity. He hauled gravel from the river and spread it in the gullies on a hill that stubbornly refused to hold it. He spread gravel at the base of the hill when potholes grew deep enough to swallow our axles. And it was there and on roads like it that I learned to drive. It is still where I feel most at home behind the wheel.
A couple of months ago, I went to see the well-preserved ghost town of Bode, Nevada. The dirt and gravel road leading to it is wide and long but filled with those familiar potholes of my youth. My driver was upset and fearful. Such a road could ruin his car. We proceeded at a baby’s crawling speed. As complaint upon complaint wormed their way into my jangled nerves, I resolved to do the driving on the return trip. It was a wonderful drive. In my mind, I was back on my little farm road, dodging the holes, looking for the safe spots, weaving all over that road, with smiles and laughter and joy and delight that only a brother or sister who grew up in the little farmhouse at the end of our lane could have shared.
But now, this morning, I face bigger threats than those posed by negotiating city traffic. The loneliness of the long road ahead to my future, to the end of my days here, feels more like a super highway than a friendly country road. A widow I am, and one who loves to share every bump in the road, every bird that sings along the way, every flower that grows on the roadside. Yes, Psalm 46 may always be my favorite for the Lord of Hosts is with me on the mysterious way ahead, my refuge and strength, a very present help.
Just for fun, here’s another picture of Linda. I’m in the middle, happily flanked by Linda on the right and her sister, Mary (she was a cute little blonde imp), on the left.