Many people are aware that this past week we moved our son and his family to Houston, TX. As I made the trip (I was driving the Budget Rental truck with all the belonging from Woodburn, OR to Houston), I had some time to reflect. One of those moments of reflection came as I drove from Twin Falls, ID to Burley/Rupert.
It occurred to me just how much of my life has been spent along I-84 between Pendelton, OR and Rupert ID. I grew up in Caldwell, which is dissected by the interstate. It is about half way between Pendleton and Rupert. When I lived there, 1955-1971, there was actually a blinking light where a street still crossed the freeway. That was one of the last lights on the I-84 (then I-80N) system. I have such memories of Caldwell. It is my hometown still though I have been gone longer than I was there. My school years were spend there. My diploma from CHS class of 1970 still hangs on my office wall. While school was never a great time for me, I carry many a fond remembrance. And of course, Caldwell First Christian Church is ever on my mind. I am who I am and do what I do in large measure to that place and the people so went there, young and old.
When we traveled to my grandparents’ homes we went either West to Pendleton and up to Colfax, WA, or East to Rupert (Paul but it is so small almost no one knows where that is). We started those journeys before there was a freeway, but watched it be built over the years. Fond memories were generated as I traveled the freeway last week, heading East to Grandma’s house.
I ministered in Pendleton, OR., at Blue Mountain Christian Church. It was a new church which died a premature death. I do not accept all the blame for that failure, but I know I had a hand in it. It was a time of trial and error, a youth preacher trying to do an old preacher’s job.
From Pendleton we journeyed West to Kimberly, ID. Kimberly Christian Church was a blessing and a place of rescue for me, and us. I arrived a wounded preacher, ready to become a dairyman (thankfully that didn’t happen, but that is another story). I found love and acceptance and a people willing to let me regain my feet and help nurture my spirit back to health. It was also there that we met the challenge of a sick daughter and a group of people willing to do whatever they could to help us through. Once that storm quieted a bit, I left (something I often wish I had not done but so be it.)
We then went to Illinois and then on to Shelton, WA., where we are now. It was between Rupert and Caldwell that my son ask me a thought provoking question, “Do you feel like you are going full circle?” I went to college in Seattle and after 16 years and who knows how many miles we were coming back to Washington, down I-84.
So this past week, as I left Twin Falls, I thought of all the trips down that road, with belonging in tow. I made it with my family, a couple three times. I moved Ireland, and Dave and Amber, and now James and Amy. As I drove, names and faces rushed past, classmates, and church friends. Family members like the Darnells and the other Thackers. People from Colfax and the farm in Paul. The church family in Kimberly (some of my favorite people still). Good times and hard time. Fond memories, and memories that will not fade though I wish they would. I made some corny remark about I-84 to my wife but promised not to repeat it, it was too corny even for me.
Most of us have places like that. They might be a stretch of highway like mine, or a town we have lived in most of our lives. Maybe it is a school, a home, a job, a church. Someplace where we became who we are. We are, as I am, indebted to the people along that road: parents, siblings, relatives, friends, and even enemies and a few strangers.
Along I-84 I have met Jesus. I have learned to love him as he has guided my life and brought people into it. He has been there watching, caring. He has loved my successes and forgiven my failures. His Spirit has produced in me His fruit (love, joy, peace, et. al.), though I have so much more to learn and more to grow, Along I-84 I have learned to love the Church and the people who are that Church.
I-84 from Pendleton, OR to Rupert, ID. 384 miles that make up that backbone of my spiritual journey.