My high school commencement address was centered around the words of the song our class had (for some strange reason) chosen as our graduation theme. Dan Fogelberg's "Somewhere Along the Road" includes the lyrics: "Joy at the start, fear in the journey, joy at the coming home. A part of the heart gets lost in the learning, somewhere along the road."
25 years to the day after giving that speech, I was heading west for the first 2-week break I had taken since that "endless summer" of 1980. This time, it was not my speedy 1967 Grand Prix, but a much more practical minivan that was my ride of choice; my companions on this journey were not my "buds" J.F. and Jimmy, but my wife, daughter, and in-laws.
Our great American adventure took in 14 states over 12 days and 6,000 miles. Among many other highlights, we enjoyed the privilege of viewing Mt. Rushmore, visited Focus on the Family's Colorado headquarters, and spent good, quality time with family and friends nationwide. Indeed, there was great joy at the start...some fear in the journey...and (exhausted) joy at our return home.
But instead of "losing a part of my heart along the way," I actually found much I had lost in the previous journey of a quarter century. I learned, traveling between the snow-capped peaks of Yellowstone, that nothing man can fashion or esteem can compare to the simplest creation of our Lord. I learned that, even in close quarters, I love my family more than I ever thought possible. I realized that my job is truly not the most important thing in my life. But there was something more.
Sometimes, we in the big cities can get caught up in our own urban snobbery. Though Philadelphia is an impressive and important place, the mid-section of this nation is anything BUT “flyover country.” Our news and entertainment media give little attention to these beautiful places--Wyoming, South Dakota, New Mexico, Missouri, and so many other locales. But I realized afresh that, perhaps, these far-off lands are much closer to the kind of nation our forefathers envisioned. It was energizing to visit them, if only for a few weeks.
Our overloaded family cruiser might not have discovered any new, uncharted territory. And I'm not suggesting that 2 weeks of nonstop traveling is for everyone--it was a long haul! But if you're anything like me, you might be amazed at what you’ll discover about yourself somewhere along the road.