Saturday I went to Wichita a different route than I normally do. As I headed on Highway 54 east out of Pratt, the traffic was pretty heavy on this two lane highway. It is common to see near death accidents unfold right in front of your eyes as impatient drivers try to slip around semi trucks. In return these Kings of the Road seem to think they are currently being challenged for the title. In all honestly, it is probably just as nerve-wracking for truckers as it is for the driver of itty bitty Chevy Cavalier they are trying to keep from smushing like a beer can. One never knows what they might innocently get caught in the midst during of this 65 mph roller derby. Will I meet my demise by becoming a sandwich between ol’ Farmer Joe on his 1953 John Deere tractor and CW McCall singing Convoy in his monster Peterbilt, complete with the custom chrome-plated teeth forming a menacing mouth on its grill as it flies up on my bumper like a hungry beast? Mix in the Kansas wind sucking vehicles all over the road like a game of tug-of-war, it was not a good day on Highway 54.
Suddenly, the traffic fanned out in front of me like the parting of the Red Sea and the road took on the smoothness of dutch chocolate. “This is nice,” I say to myself as the tension melts from my shoulders. I take heed as I am gliding through the almost obsolete construction zone. I do not want to add to the ticket I aquired from speeding in one a few years ago. I take in the new curves with caution as the Blueberry (my car) and I wind up over an overpass. I glance to the north and there is a town. What? Who put a town there? I don’t know this town—until I look to the sign below the overpass with an arrow pointing north that says “Cunningham”.
My heart falls. For quite some time, we knew this day was coming as we watched the dozers and trucks remold the landscape. In fact, before I knew the State of Kansas’s plan I had joked about the “Cunningham Fly-Over” as the berg is a little bigger than a if-you-blink-you-miss-it town. Why bother when all one has to do is slow down a little bit to get through it? Like most Kansas communities the highway was giving this struggling community some of its life blood as travelers stopped for a little gasoline or a burger at the mom-and-pop diner On the flip-side, travelers will miss out experiencing the quirkyness of the old gas station turned Antique Shop, where rusted relics capture the imagination on the driveway. Beside the road is the vintage motel of cabinettes concealed in a groove of trees that is a history lesson in itself. In the hustle and bustle of getting from point A to point B, we will glide right past a slice of the charm of this Kansas version of Mayberry. Funny, how we all crave that magic, but don’t have the time to embrace it. Hence the highway bypass was born.
I vow at that moment if I am too busy to reroute through Cunningham, then I am just too busy! Hurrah for Small Town America! Aunt Bea would be so proud.
Then I realise that I probably won’t. The convenience makes it so easy to slide right around as I focus on my agenda. I will fly by it and probably not even notice.
My thoughts take me deeper than I wanted or had invited them to go. If I do this with a town, then how often do I do this with people? How often do I blow by them in the fast lane and not stop to experience their uniqueness? When do I take the road less traveled that ends up at the door of a shut-in? Or striking up a conversation during that awkward wait in the grocery store line because getting to know someone might slow me down? How much am I missing of a friendship that may satisfy a craving with its magic all because its an inconvenience? Am I truly that busy?
Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue with actions and in truth. 1 John 3: 18 If being intentional about our actions was natural, we wouldn’t have to be told, huh?
Photo credit: http://shields.aaroads.com/show.php?image=KS19260541