One of the brightest spots to be found, when the gray and dreary days of winter become longer and longer, is Front Street when the Christmas lights begin to put on their daily show just after 5:00pm. As I am clocking out, they are clocking in. Having worked downtown for many years this is what I refer to as, “The best of times and the worst of times”.
The best of times would be when I have the time to actually enjoy the slow drive down Front Street to take in the sights and sounds that make Natchitoches the most exciting place to be in December. The shimmer of thousands of LED lights draped from every possible nook and cranny is just what the doctor orders after a stressful day at work. I cherish the times that I get to savor the holidays and take the long way home.
I consider it the worst of times when I have somewhere to be at 5:15 and the traffic is backed up way past my office. It has taken me years to awaken the escape artist that lives within and plan a route that will get me across the bridge quicker than Harry Houdini himself. On days like this I just do not have the time to stop and watch the lights twinkle.
My daughters quickly learned years ago to ask if we are taking the long way home before they agree to ride with me. When we would visit friends in Cloutierville they knew that when they entered my vehicle I may be taking the long ride home. This would include a picturesque drive around the winding roads of Cane River. This is when we would stop and visit friends who may be on their porch or drive slow to enjoy the summer boat traffic on the river.
There is just something so meaningful and peaceful about an excursion that includes a long drive.
Sunroof open and tunes on the radio is a good time that is hard to beat will always be considered the best of times.
Just this past week we decided to visit my brother in North Arkansas and I had preplanned to drive in one direction and come back in another just to maximize the possibility of enjoying the scenery. My daughters mainly tune me out when we travel and bury themselves in Netflix or social media so It just me, the open road and a Podcast. On our journey back home was no different. Chit chatting and then they go their separate ways with their ear buds.
All was well with our souls until I saw a large road sign that warmly welcomed us into the state of Oklahoma. Have I mentioned that GPS is not always a friend of mine? This was not part of the plan and I grew very concerned with the intermittent cell phone service. Once I was able to establish exactly where we were I had concluded that I was about two hours out of our intended long way home. Although I have always championed the long way home this was more than I bargained for and quickly became the worst of times.
This unintentional tour bought us through winding roads that barely hugged a foggy mountainside with zero visibility in the pouring rain. I was hard pressed to see more than ten feet in front of my vehicle. We weren’t even passing other vehicles which made my very uncomfortable. It was virtually impossible to see the silver lining to all of these clouds and darkness. Hands down, worst of times. By the time I made it to the other side of the mountain my cell service was restored and we actually saw signs of life.
Once we knew we were safe and sound and on the correct road my daughters felt the freedom to make fun of dear old mom for the rest of the adventure which made it all worth it. Worst of times turned to the best of times in a mere moment.
In our path of life we are essentially taking the long way home. There are roadblocks and detours along the way. Quite often there can be deep potholes and road hazards that are unforeseeable until it is too late. The roads are often curvy and foggy at the same time slowing your travel time and filling it with uncertainty. The path of life very seldom runs a straight path from point A to point B without interruptions, disappointments and delays.
God never promised us to smooth and well paved roads without problems and failures along the way. He did promise us that he would always be by our side though.
“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand”. – Psalm 16:11