Thursday, July 30, 2009

Logging miles...

In my work here in NJ, I have worked out a couple of standard "get-there" routes that all folks in NJ have in their proverbial back pocket to get them from A to B without facing places where traffic or roadwork or some other thing will tie them up. Many call it the "best back way." Aside from the Garden State, the NJ turnpike and a host of other interstate connections and major state routes, there are also hosts of county roads that trace across the state and allow for detours that might entail more miles-but in NJ terms they mean less time on the road. It may take you further, but it gets you there faster.

Two things arise from getting into this way of driving: the first is that you realize that going 65+ on the interstate will for the most part get you where you are going around the same time as driving 45 mph on a back route; second, the "best back way" usually entails dramatically lower stress levels. The traffic is lighter and people don't drive as aggressively.

This is, I think, the birth of wisdom. Lord knows I need a good dose of it when it comes to my driving habits...but that is fodder for another post.

Yesterday, I drove over to Princeton, then back through Matawan and from there on to Red Bank. Each of these routes could have taken me along the highways of the I-287 loop, the Turnpike and down the Garden State. Yet, under counsel and support from friends and the faithful GPS that L and I have in the Prius I chose to make my way at both a slower pace and with more intention.

Here is are some discoveries that came "along the way:"
  • Just outside the entrance to Brookdale Community College there is a roundabout that takes what would be a hair-raising crossroads event and turns it into a moment of leisure. The space is well-designed and actually pleasant to pass through.
  • After living here for months, I just found Lincroft, NJ and have put a couple of restaurants on our to-eat-at list.
  • Texas Road is a great route to drive if you want to see the full panoply of lifestyles in NJ, from high to low, from simple to complex, from rich to poor. All levels are there...everyone is someone's neighbor!
  • There is a church in Holmdel, NJ that is now a real estate office...wild.
  • There are more beautiful parks in Monmouth County than I had imagined. This really is the Garden State.
  • When there isn't as much traffic to worry about and fewer intersections to stress my way through, I get more time to pay attention to the world around me and to actually have some time for mindful prayer as well.
Too often in life, I find myself wrapped up in and attached to getting to a destination. I forget what a joy and a gift it is to have the opportunity to spend time in transit. Being between here and there is a gift, and having the time and resources that allow me to enjoy it is more than a blessing. Through these moments on the back roads I am getting a chance to slow down and enjoy life, creation and the ministry I am living here and now. That is a treat. Thank you, NJ for making the back roads a viable and favorable alternative to getting anywhere in a rush and bother.

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