I just spent a lovely week roadtripping around the Midwest. I drove east from the Twin Cities across Wisconsin to Port Washington for a day, and then down to Cedarburg for another day. From there, I drove down through Beloit, curved around the underside of Rockford, Illinois, and cut west to Stockton for a wedding. Then I stayed in Galena for a couple nights before shooting over into Iowa and heading up through southern Minnesota to get home. Overall, the trip was an 887-mile loop.
This trip had no justice-intent behind it; the only reason I hit the road was to see friends. As someone who has done a lot of traveling, both with groups and alone, it is easy for me to forget that taking off to visit someone in a new place can be an intimidating prospect for some people. When I tell friends that I live in Minnesota, I notice that the idea of taking a trip to visit me seems daunting to them. (After all, Minnesota is hundreds of miles from anywhere else, and out-of-staters tend to dislike the mandatory parka that is part of our state dress code.) However, I still want to see my friends, so when I have a week free, I like to use it to go visiting—especially when there’s the excuse of a wedding to see lots of friends all in one place at the same time!
The problem, though, is that no matter how carefully I try to plan, I can never see all the people I wish I could have seen. Even the people that I did get to see, I wish I could have visited longer with them! Still, I was able to see two friends from my grade-school days, one friend I met on a trip earlier this year, two ministerial colleagues, and over twenty friends from college. I helped paint a friend’s house, ate more French pastries than were really a good idea, had lovely meals with good company, read a poem at my friend’s wedding, and visited a colleague’s church the week before his formal installation. Not too shabby for a five-day trip!
I find myself being mindful of how many blessings I received this week. As we enter into the month of Thanksgiving, I want to remember to be thankful for all the wonderful people in my life: old friends and new; colleagues and congregants; fellow students and professors; those who have taught me and those who have allowed me a chance to share. The circle of my loved ones has expanded so very much, even just in this past year.
And though I have not met all of my dear readers, I want to thank you for touching my life. It is because you read that I write. Thank you for your written responses, your silent support, and your readiness to engage in dialogue when we meet in person. Your presence has truly been a gift, and I thank you for it.