"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Gospel of Back Roads

Narrow is the way--3 by 5 watercolor
"But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and  only a few find it." --Matt 7:14
Jesus had only three years to do his work, and we never see him in a hurry or late.
Why are we? Our technology and Interstate culture makes us hurry and fear being late. He walked or rode a donkey.
When he spoke about living, it was about a narrow, twisting trail where your feet got hot and dirty, but where you could also "consider the lilies of the field."
We live on Interstates, and ride at 60 plus miles per hour, chafe at "stop" lights, always work on a "dead" line, and wonder why we don't get more out of life. He was right--it's no wonder so few find life.
What are we afraid of? Do we even know how fearful we are of everything in our high-speed culture? Of how controlled we are by a man-made clock? Why do we consider those who slow down as abnormal, or even threats to our lives?
I know this sounds hypocritical coming from me, who hates traffic lights, mutters at slow drivers, and glories in covering many miles in record times. Long-time friends will be sure to point it out with snide remarks. My oldest son refers to me as "the patient man that you are." I am indeed a creature of my culture, and on top of that, a first-born Capricorn, who expects timely results and perfection.
But as the miles and years roll by, I'm finding more and more enjoyment in taking the back roads, slowing down, walking in the park, sitting silently on the back porch with a piñon fire in the chiminea. One high-achieving friend says she's never happier than when she's on her bicycle, pedaling long miles across country. Another friend says I seem the happiest when I'm painting, mind completely slowed down from the surrounding world.
I think Jesus must have spoken those words about the narrow path to life after a long day walking a dusty trail, enjoying cool water and a meal with his friends; but 2,000 years ago, he somehow knew about the dangers of Interstate "living."
On those narrow dusty trails, I find the Gospel of Back Roads, where  you can slow down and find  the vibrancy of life in full color.
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Numerous other chapters with photographs in the Gospel of Back Roads appear in earlier posts on this blog. If you're interested, just type in "Back Roads Journal" or "Back Roads" in the search box. Here's Back Roads Journal-I.

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