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Consider this quote from Abe Lincoln

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."



     The road stretched on for miles, although you couldn’t tell that it went anywhere unless you were on top of the hill looking through the dancing waves of heat on the tops of each section of road you could see on the far off hills. It has been a place I’ve not visited in a while. That gravel road with its wild rose growing along the edges and the prairie grass beginning to go to see in the ditches. Here and there, a meadowlark flutters upon an old weathered wooden fence post and sings its shrill song in warning to my presence.

    I turned gently towards the bird and quietly apologized for being there, giving truth to the fact that I’ve returned for selfish reasons. Just over the low valley and up on the next hilltop is an old weather beaten structure that has long seen its usefulness end and today can only be guessed as to its original function. Was it a barn, or perhaps an old schoolhouse, or maybe even it once gave a young family shelter. I can picture them in the yard tending to the iris’ that still grows there today. That young couple so determined to break the odds, to outlive those who said they couldn’t make it, to keep the promises they made to each other.

     Farther on the landscape slowly starts to blend into a long white stretch of gravel, as though someone had taken a brush full of white paint and drawn in a road on a painting of the gently rolling Iowa hills. The corn is up now, you can see the rows forming up and down the sides of the hills, much in the way it was the first day we went to this spot.

     I remember the excitement in your eyes as we pulled to a quiet stop, the tires of the car crunching on the road as we eased ever closer to the ditch before rolling the windows down and peered in on a doe and her fawn tucked up under the edge of an old cedar tree growing near the creek. Neither of us dared breathe in case we scare them, for our intention was just to watch and to marvel at the world around us and forget about life for a few moments.

     In that small way, and many other spots just like it, there was a peace that was good for the soul, and when I spent time there I was able to feel at ease, and to be myself. I’ve been asked many times when I was truly happy, and I know that it is those moments of quiet reflection that I was exactly where I wanted to be. Nature has a way of slowing us down sometimes. I’m not talking about the full-bore run through the brambles to get to the swimming hole, or a cold shivering morning spent on a tree stand, but those times when unannounced it just reaches into who we are and grabs hold of us for a moment, and we find ourselves being still and letting go of all of the frustrations we feel.

     I went back there today, one last time, to see if that feeling was still there; that happy peacefulness I had known one warm summer night. The road is still there, the wildflowers and prairie grass working hard to keep from choking on the dusty cover that they wear. There are a few more cows on that road now, which brought a smile to my lips as the secret of that “inside joke” ran through my mind. The farm fields still roll like the waves of a roller coaster and in the creek bottoms a deer stands quietly guarding its home. The peacefulness I once felt is still there to some degree although it’s now tinged with a great deal of sadness, for this place will never again be able to make me feel the way I felt back then. I guess this is the way life works for us sometimes, we ride the hills looking for beauty and along the way have happiness and sorrow, but the road and time yields for no man. As it is with life, like the never ending hilltops, never really leting us know just what is hiding in the valleys.

     I’ll place this spot away inside of me, a place I’ll never really be able to hate, but one I’ll never really feel comfortable with again and walk away from it. For life moves on down the hills and in order to get where I’m going I can no longer look back or expect you to be there when it comes time to flip the coin at the intersections deciding which way to go. I’ll remember you fondly, although I’m sure over time you’ll fade from my memory like the last few leaves that fall from the trees only to lie and wait for the snow of winter to cover them and return them to the earth. I wish we had traveled that road better, but I’ll never regret the travel…drive on…drive on.

See you next week…Remember, we’re all in this together.