Reminiscing on moments in history is not foreign to the US citizen. In fact, of 20 major holidays, 13 of them have origins of just that: remembrance.
Today is a bit different for me.
Yes, I know it’s Memorial Day, and while I have already begun recognizing and remembering the sacrifices that many have made so that I, and my family, can enjoy our “American freedoms,” something else distracts my mind today. Something else won’t escape and won’t allow me to give my undivided attention to another.
That “thing” is my brother’s birthday. Today he would have 27 candles on his cake — wow, that’s hard to believe! I wonder what he’d be like at 27. Would he have “settled down” and married?
Nah, probably not.
Would he have a house? Probably not. He preferred the migrant lifestyle.
Would he have a greater love for this land? Yes, definitely. In fact, just a week ago I was traveling up the North Fork Road in the North-western corner of Columbia Falls, Montana (a very scenic route) thinking of him. Thinking he left too early.
Four years ago, on this day-his birthday, he and I left our hometown of Wilmington, NC for a spectacular roadtrip across the US. Here’s my journal, penned just three days before:
In a discussion recently with a good friend I began to answer the commonly summoned, “so what’s new?” Such a typical cliche question that normally is followed by the typical (and, yes, cliche) “oh, not much.”
However, there was a pause and while it was for just a moment, it was a deep deafening pause as if thunder interrupted the conversation. It was then that I began to realize that my life is complicated and in need of more than just a simple one-line summation. OK, you can stop rolling your eyes now–those of you who know me well enough to know my life has been very complex lately and mostly due to self-imposed complexities.
Nonetheless, I began:
“Well, I’ve got some big changes on the horizon…in fact, starting real soon.”
My former roommate has always been very respectful and generous in his time toward me so he inquired further. He then learned of my ambitions to travel a few time-zones back…to the West.
In short, my desire for the West is inspired by a few larger intentions of my character:
Independence – I have a strong desire to promote individualism. I believe we all benefit by the fruits of many individuals rather than the collective sum of the masses. The American West has historically and even today represents this very intention; that all deserve some room and no one holds rights or privilege over another.
Spontaneity – Some call it a curse, I tend to think it makes life more interesting. I’m not an advocate for mere existence. I desire to live. Get on the road, do something you haven’t, reach for the stars for it’s better to live for a minute than to exist for a lifetime.
Beauty – Beyond just surface pleasures, the Western portions of the United States far surpass what the East can provide, unless the smell of congestion, confusion, chaotic manipulation, and social inequity suits your fancy. I believe every American kid should visit the Grand Canyon, and every American parent should make that happen. Go visit God’s canvas!
So here it is. Welcome to the “Western Mecciafication!”
Sometimes it’s hard to think about. But, still, it’s easy to smile. Chris was good at that, smiling.
Today, four years later, I certainly miss him. But, I have the hope of seeing him again, given to me by God through His word. God promises me a day with Him, and him(Chris), in paradise. A day that knows no fear and sheds no fear. Only peace. A peace we are incapable of understanding today.
Some may find it bizarre, a belief in the afterlife (especially an afterlife that is so profoundly beautiful–typically, people prefer the likes of zombies!). But, as I think of God and His will, His power, and His intention, I really can’t think of anything less than beautiful. He is magnificent!
This gives me the strength to move on. I love my brother and miss him dear, but I still have a mission while I’m here.
Today, I will sing Happy Birthday, but I’ll not cry. I’ll smile. For I know he has been renewed and is in the presence of our Father. The Father.