Morning Ride

In this time of working from home, distance learning, and “remoting in,” I consider myself fortunate for the opportunity to drive to work every morning. It’s not just because I truly enjoy my job and am thankful to have it, but because the process of getting there eases me into the routine each day, something I was unable to do for almost six months.

Like so many last spring, my 25-minute morning commute from home to work changed to my 25-step morning walk from the kitchen to the family room where I set up a Chromebook and welcomed students on Zoom. Convenient? Sure. Satisfying? Not really. It was not the rising before dawn that I missed or the hastily-eaten breakfast and certainly not the parkway traffic. It was the journey itself—and what I didn’t experience when I wasn’t on it.

Much of my ride to school takes me through a generally rural community whose winding roadways seem to effortlessly inspire peaceful reflection, even at 7 am. Such a perfect setting for a decade of the Rosary, a moment of meditation, a short podcast on Spotify, and a chance to witness God’s glory in the continual change of seasons.

Driving the same route every day for many years, I have tried to notice even the smallest transformations, especially in nature. I didn’t realize until recently though how much I missed not only the emergent greening of front lawns last spring or the gradual blooming of tiny buds but also the time each day to acknowledge it. This all happened, of course, but I didn’t have the privilege of seeing the arrival of new life. This autumn, I vowed to appreciate its departure. As the leaves that appeared from those tiny buds during quarantine transformed in their brilliance and began to wither, I traveled those roads once more, awed.

I saw, as if for the first time, the magnificent crimson of burning bushes lining the walkway of an old Colonial, the mini pumpkins settled into the crevices of a meandering stone wall, and the blanket of golden leaves forming a perfect circumference around a longstanding maple. This drive, consistent though never boring, awakens me to how God is revealed in nature’s beauty and how He gives us what we need just when we need it. For me, it is those 25 minutes, those quiet moments of solitude and reflection which, when absent, left me with an emptiness that has just now been restored.

Like the branches of the tallest trees, some already bare and extending skyward, we reach for respite in these times, finding comfort in the routines that once appeared mundane. I for one am happy to settle in and enjoy the ride.