A Trail of Ruins and Tending Moments

One morning last week as I drove down a familiar country road and the chalky sky dulled the day’s light, I yielded to my yearnings and stopped to snap a photo. The things that caught my eye were ordinary—nothing new. In fact, they were old and had fringed the field for years. The frames of four old trucks sat in ruins: dilapidated, abandoned, and deteriorated.

Many times, I’ve been tempted to pull over and capture it on camera. But for one reason or another, I found excuses to hurry by: bad lighting, the judgments of the nearby neighbors, or my concerns about the stress of my overbooked day.

Life is crazy. We rush to and from work and from place to place. World events threaten to whittle away at our peace. We grow more hurried and harried as hours race by. Our jobs and personal lives produce more pressure and less peace. Sometimes I feel as if I’m in the midst of battling a storm.

I’ve passed by when the field flowed like waves of green silk and the sun glinted off the corners of the truck’s chrome, and when sunset spilled like gold while a doe and her babe browsed at wood’s edge. But this day had none of that. Nature deposited her harsh grays and whites after autumn had packed up her brilliant party.

The dim lighting caused me to frown and almost keep driving. My tires mashed through the slush as I slowed to the side of the road. Overhead, a shivering canopy of snow-covered limbs creaked ever so slightly. Cold snow melted at my ankles in my approach toward the scene.

As it ended up, I did more than just snap a photo. I stood in the scarcity and found beauty. I didn’t get close enough to see the trucks’ inner details, like if the seats were intact, but I opened another door.

Where had these trucks been and what work had they accomplished? I imagined a farmer, his fingerprints etched with grease, leaning in to repair one of these truck engines in his driveway. Maybe a young son in suspenders and too-short pants sat in the passenger seat as his father delivered a load of lumber to a wood yard. The family, dressed in their Sunday best, might have piled in for the trip to church services.

Memories of my grandfather in his garage settled in—and the essence of oil and petroleum that emitted from the stained wood floor where he repaired vehicles in the 40’s and 50’s. It was extra work when he was trying to make ends meet. When I was a kid, my dad worked on the family car in that same garage. While we waited for Dad, Grammy would go to the shed and pull out Hoodsie Cups from the chest freezer. My brothers and I would scarf down our chocolate swirl ice cream at the kitchen table while she stirred supper on her old cook stove.

Standing in the snow with camera in hand, and fond memories in my head, opened an unsuspected space of stillness.

There is no hurry, I told myself, and ordinary became extraordinary.

In his book The Art of Stillness, Pico Iyer writes, “But, like many a wanderer, he (Leonard Cohen) seemed always to know that it’s only when you stop moving that you can be moved into some far deeper way.”

I’m taking a few more pictures as a deep sense of calm continues to cover me. God met me where I was—on the side of a country road, staring at ramshackle trucks.

“He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed” (Psalm 107:29 ESV), wrote the Psalmist.

I love floating on my back in a lake when the surface is so still it gives off reflections clear as paintings. Not a breath of air stirs the surface. I remember floating with my face toward heaven, my buoyant body dissolving like sugar.

That’s the level of peace that held me that morning. I stayed and gazed at the trucks as the moment hushed my internal waves. God used the dilapidated ruins of four old trucks to plant solace in my soul.

Trappist monk and author Thomas Merton wrote, “Every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul.”

As I trailed up the embankment to my car, I promised to tend more moments.

 

There is no hurry, I told myself, and ordinary became extraordinary. Click To Tweet

 

 

(Photos by Sharon A Gibbs)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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