We mark the progression of our lives through milestones. Milestones are special places along the journey where we have stopped for few moments and recognized something important to us. The experience may be joyful and wondrous, or, it may be sad and contemplative. Both kinds of milestones are ingredients in a healthy journey. But one thing is critical to experience a milestone as it should be lived: slowing down to pause along the journey.
When I was young, I remember the early development of the Interstate road system in America. I remember President Eisenhower talking about it, and I remember when Interstate 69 came by our city. Now we could really go places! This road system opened up a whole new world of travel and commerce in our country. One ingredient of this amazing road system is that every interstate has mile-markers. Mile markers let you know where you are along your journey. But these mile-markers are not the same kind of which I speak.
Before Interstates, the roads were two-lanes. Major roadways like Route 30, the National Road and Route 66 were famous for a different kind of mile-marker. All along these routes there were interesting, wondrous and fun stopping points. The Blue Ridge Highway was dotted with beautiful scenic overlooks. Route 66 had all kinds odd and entertaining displays like the Paul Bunyan statue and the world’s largest rocking chair. Motels dotted the journey. I was always excited to see the big green Holiday Inn signs. These roads meant adventure, mostly because of these different kinds of mile-markers.
Modern interstates were not made for these kinds of stops along the journey. Interstate roads are all about getting to the destination as quickly as possible. There’s no time to stop and see the world’s largest ball of twine on an interstate. Hurry, hurry. Quick on, quick off. “We’ve got to get there on time!”
The past year and a half have dotted my memory with mile markers of many kinds. There are many sad and painful markers, but there are also wonderful and enriching ones too. Gail’s illness had caused us to pause many times. In some ways, our lives have felt hectic and rushed all the time. Being seriously ill for a long period of time is demanding and exhausting. Yet, we have been very deliberate about spending time with friends and family. We’ve spent many hours alone together laughing and crying and just being silent. By the way, you know that you have a good friend when you don’t have to talk all the time.
All this to say; I am writing these thoughts while sitting at a huge antique desk in a beautiful old home looking out upon the Colorado Rocky Mountains. We are here for a day, sharing with two of our closest friends before I attend a discipleship group with men I have not yet met. There is so much to do here that it is hard to choose. But, in this case, Gail’s ill health has decided for us. We will take some short walks and drive about the scenery, but mostly we will be together with our friends. And that is enough. It is actually more than enough. Every moment is indeed precious, especially for Gail. She fears there might not be too many more of these special times. No matter. We cannot control tomorrow, but we can certainly enjoy today. What we do today will be etched in our memories for the rest of our lives.
I understand that interstate roads are necessary and helpful. But I like two-lane highways too. I think more memories are made along this “slower” form of getting from one place to another. I thank God for two-lane roads. I thank God that He has shared His wisdom with us – pause often and you’ll enjoy many milestones. Don’t live your life like you’re on an interstate all the time. If you do, you will certainly miss many wonderful sights.