What the Wind Reveals

I’ve been seeing them everywhere lately.

I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s the presidents’ birthdays and holiday that passed recently. Maybe it’s the winter and the dearth of color and vividness that makes them pop out like that grand golden orb during a sunrise.

Maybe it's the wind, which has been extra active lately in the hysterical weather this town has been experiencing.

Call me patriotic, but it's a beautiful sight.

Seeing the invisible fingers of the wind pick up the lifeless stripes and transform them into fluttering freedom.

Seeing the stars emblazoned on that blanket of blue and thinking one of them stands for the state I'm in. Seeing the brilliance of the red against the white. Justice. Purity. Courage.

I've been praying for more of that last lately. Courage. Daring.

As life looms large, I leash up my puppy and tie my tennis shoes and go out. I walk the pavement, grinning at the way the leaves skitter over the blacktop as if playing hot potato. That wind again.

My hand clenches over the leash extra-tight when a bumblebee buzzes over a butter-flower in a crack. And I wonder if I'll ever get it right, wake up one morning with that dose of daring, that gut full of gumption I've been wishing for. Or will I always freeze when bees fly by? Shudder when the thought of a tarantula skids across my brain?

Then in a neighbor's yard, the stripes and the stars dance in the breeze. Out here, I breathe. Out here, I hear the flag snap as if calling me to attention. Out here, I hear the bells in the birdsong. Out here, I hear the laughter in the wind.

Do you think Jesus ever laughed? Does He laugh still? What sends the joy pulsing through His kingly heart so that it skips out as laughter?

When I trip and laugh at myself, does He laugh with me? When I see a squirrel tail-up in a patch of grass, so intent on his cache of nuts that he (or she) doesn't see my puppy straining at the leash... the wind catches my chuckle... Does He laugh with me then?

Ultimately, is that what the wind reveals? His joy, His love, His life surging through me...

Just as the wind lifts the folds of the flag, He lifts my soul.

Even on doldrum days.

Finding the Railroad Tracks

They lay through the heart of our town, leading in, leading out, a strong and steady line.

And, in my case, a landmark.

I don't have a head for directions. But I know how to find my way home if I can just find the railroad tracks.

Every once in a while, the tried and true path that takes me on home after school is a little too confining. It's a straight shot, unhindered, unhampered by too many turns. Unless you count the row of traffic lights.

Heaven help me if I catch one redlight, for if you catch one, you catch 'em all. Such is the nature of small town timers, I suppose.

Town hall and the tracks cradle town square. Beyond is the road I take to come to the diverging of five separate roads. One leads to the library. One leads home.

And before the tracks is the path I come ambling down, tired from classes, hungry and already thinking of what homework to tackle first after I pull into the driveway.

But sometimes instead of staying straight, I turn left before I even come to the tracks. I chuckled to myself this afternoon when that sudden urge to explore the side streets of my small town gripped me. The first turn I took led me down a gravel road. A sign greeted me. Beyond state maintenance.


A couple of rotting boards haphazardly pretended to block entrance to a field full of sunshine. And I couldn't help but think of the kids who must come down here to throw a softball around.

I backed out of that road and took another, passed the fuelin' station and the park. Down another road with a confusing street name. Ahhh. I know where I am now. This is that old highway. I know how to get home from here.

I followed it for a while, crossed the tracks, then grinned wide where I was supposed to turn into the back of a neighborhood. Nah.

I hooked a left.

Gravel gave way to dirt and some of the prettiest houses I've ever seen. I discovered a whole community I hadn't even known existed. Practically in my backyard.

Then I found myself laughing hysterically, and not just at the guy on the radio cracking jokes.

Out loud, I said to myself (and I never talk to myself out loud), "I have no clue where I am."

And I didn't fear it a bit.

Oh, how I wish that were the case when life gets that way.

Although I did laugh at the potential possibility that I'd have to call my dad and ask him to come get me. I imagined him asking, "Well, where are you?"

What would I tell him? I'm parked in front of a "road" that bears the name of the family that lives in the only house at the end of it?

I got closer to the water tower they put up several years ago than I'd ever been before. I almost ran off the dirt road (a difficult thing to do, you know) craning my neck to get a good look at it. Tall and straight, it stuck up into the sky as if in defiance of the fate of Babel.

Trees lined each side of me as my truck came to a stop sign. I looked to my left and smiled. The rickety General Store.

And the railroad tracks.

I'd made a complete circle. I crossed the tracks and took the road home.

So this afternoon I discovered a bit more about the small town I've lived in all my life. And a little about myself, too.

Sometimes, I like to toss off restraint. Take a side street. Sight-see. Feel the bump in this ole truck as country music whispers from the radio, the sun shining in my face.

And sometimes I'm oh-so-grateful for that line of rail that splits the center of this town and leads me home.