As Long as You Can See the Double Line…

With everything going on this past week, the sadness that has overtaken our country in a crazy and unfathomable way, it has been a struggle to sit down and concentrate enough to be able to write something light and cheery over the past few days.  I think I am pretty sheltered…. no, I know I am very sheltered…and I like it that way.  I don’t have a problem with small-town-everybody-knows-your-business living.  I have done my time in the “big city” though, and I much prefer the small town.  In the spring of 1991, I moved from a tiny east-Tennessee town, with a population of between seven to eight thousand, to live and work in the Metropolitan Washington D.C. area, with a population, at that time, of somewhere between four and five million.  Can you say culture shock?  This little wide-eyed country girl definitely had her eyes opened, her horizons expanded and her roads lengthened!

Even on that journey, the thing that has followed me throughout most of my life – God’s blessing in surrounding me with good people and positive relationships – followed me there.  Initially, there was a two-person team that moved to Gaithersburg, Maryland, myself being one of that team.  We went there to work with the Department of Energy and support a computer system that they were using during the early nineties.  My coworker-friend and I filled the hours of our free time to THE max!  The first few weeks were spent doing a lot of driving around at night (sometimes in circles), when the traffic was not quite so intense, to find our way around and figure out where things were.  Our weekends were spent exploring the whole Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Washington DC corridor, and experiencing the rich history and culture that it presented. We squeezed every ounce of adventure and discovery, and I have to admit – food – out of the time that we had there.  Eventually she came back to Tennessee and I stayed there as a support person.  It was right about the time I was left on my own that I met the person that would become one of my best friends in life and the person that I call my second mom.  As strange as it sounds, I have had people adopting me my whole life!

The first day that we met, I had gone to her office to assist her with the computer system she was trying (unsuccessfully) to bully into submission.  (For those of you that are computer nerds….think PRE-Windows….DOS!)  The task that she needed done was actually quite simple and it was a quick fix.  She was getting ready to head out to lunch, so we were in no hurry.  We ended up sitting there in her office chatting through most of her lunch break.  Somehow we connected that first day and I knew that I’d made a friend.  She and a small group were going out that weekend and she invited me to join them.  That was the start of our travels and adventures together throughout the next twenty-six years.

Me, I think we have already determined that I need a lot of quiet, introspective alone time.  My friend, on the other hand, she is someone that never sits still for very long, and thrives on motion and activity. During the time that I lived there, we were always going somewhere interesting.  If we did not have a planned destination, we would just head out to see what the day would bring.  She would always say, “You are on a new road, make a wish.”  It was on one of these “new road” journeys that she said something that I had never heard before but accepted and did not even question.  We had been driving around for quite a while in northern Maryland, possibility even into Pennsylvania for all I know! She was looking for a place where her elderly aunt used to live when she was a young girl, and where she still owned some property.  Yes, we were actually just being nosy.  We were headed up this mountain on a winding, two lane road.  It seemed that the higher we climbed, the narrower the road became and the thicker the forest grew and the darker the surrounding area became.  I was starting to sweat it.   Visions of “Deliverance” were flashing through my mind.  I asked her if we were lost and if we would ever find our way out of the ever-encroaching forest. She didn’t miss a beat with her answer.  She says, “Oh no. We will be fine.  The road has double lines on it.  It has to come out somewhere.”  She sounded totally convincing…sort of.  We did follow those double lines and eventually made it over that mountain, howbeit on roads that in some places did not seem big enough for one lane, let alone two lanes!

I only remained in Maryland for a couple of years, plus frequent business trips back to the area for a while afterward.  Our friendship has remained strong and our adventures were, and still are, plentiful.   In all my travels, with and without my friend, I cannot believe how many times, when sort of lost, that  I have used the phrase, “Oh well, the road has double lines on it, just keep going and it will come out somewhere.”  It almost always works; maybe because we were actually headed in the right direction anyhow?

The funny thing is that I really did not questioned the validity of that statement.  So just for fun, as I was starting to write this post, I did an Internet search, looking for the purpose of the double lines on roadways.  (Yes, I took drivers education at Burch High School; but that WAS over forty years ago, and I was only interested in getting to the “driving” part; plus that was not one of the things that V.S. would whack you on the knee with the stick over!  Everyone who ever drove with him knows exactly what I’m talking about!)  Well, come to find out, “double lines” mean a few different things in a number of different countries; but in none of them could I find that double lines have anything to do with major road ways connecting to one another.  Even with that being said, I think that will be a hard habit for me to break, because, oddly enough, it seems to work.

I think it may have something to do with being on the right road to begin with, and keeping your eye on the road, or keeping your eye on your direction – on where you are going – your final destination.  I think that we, “as a people,” could use my friend’s double line theory a little more (modified slightly by me).  (Check out Proverbs 4:25-26, which I will post below.)  We have taken our eyes off our purpose and have, instead, fixed them on things that do not matter.  Respect (for others), consideration (for others), compassion (for others), care/concern (for others) and love (for others) – these are the things that we need to be concentrating on, looking toward, following.  Our eyes do not seem to be focused on the road, let alone the lines on the road, and certainly not in the direction we should be going.  We have put the car on cruise control and are frantically glued to our mobile device, keeping up with the chaos of the world, as we veer farther and farther off course in who-knows-what direction.  We need to get back to paying attention – paying attention to people and circumstances around us.  God is the ultimate compass to navigating life on this planet.  Who better than the Creator to give you direction? Even if you do not have that belief, the basic principles of respect, consideration, compassion, care/concern and love are ageless, international, interracial, interdenominational, and just the right thing to do.  No matter what your religious, or non-religious belief, if you start concentrating on the positive, and caring about others before yourself, you will find that the circle around you tends to get a little better.  Then who knows, if your circle gets better and intersects with another circle that you could make better, and those intersect with other circles….think about it!

What have we seen throughout the past week?  We have seen panic, alarm, fear, disbelief and sadness that no one should have to experience.  But we have also seen the good that comes shining out when the majority of people react in respectful, considerate, compassionate, caring/concerned and loving ways.  Yes, the actions of one person can affect many; but the actions of hundreds can affect millions that are watching.  And for my dear, dear friends and loved ones that have lived through this past week with a front row seat, I pray that the double line that runs through your city – the city that you love – will bring with it those that desire to follow it and stay on it and realize that we all need to watch out for each other while we are traveling it!

~~~

Let your eyes look directly ahead [toward the path of moral courage] And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you [toward the path of integrity].  Consider well and watch carefully the path of your feet, And all your ways will be steadfast and sure.
~Proverbs 4:25-26 (Amplified Bible)
(a.k.a {according to Ele Layne} the Bible’s “Double Line” theory!)

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