When Our Paths Cross

Driving Indiana State Road 15 put me into an emotional intelligence state of mind where I began listening to what was happening inside of me.  It was a trip that made me aware of my feelings about the place I lived, life in general, and how I should share it in the day-to-day.

My destination was Silver Lake but more specifically Yellow Creek Lake.  Silver Lake was much like all I had experienced already on the northern drive.  Established in 1859, Silver Lake sits at a crossroads—old three story buildings watching over a four-way stop intersection where east and west meet north and south. It is a crossing point where small town folks buy flowers and the whiteboard easel next to the door of the café street entrance simply reads, “Welcome.”

That seemed to be the way most of my drive had been over the hour of travel.  I witnessed a lot that caused me to reflect—to listen to my emotions in that solitary drive, devoid of any sound save the constant hum of the car’s air conditioner.  I passed little towns at crossroads, too.  Little places like “Treaty,” “LaFountaine,” or signs pointing off to distant locales like, “Jalapa.”  At these intersections were gaggles of older homes, mixed with attempts at commerce, to invite the passerby to stop and “sit a spell.”

There were also signs that directed people to churches like “Jalapa Bethel Brethren” or “Olive Branch Church of God;” places where people experienced home each Sunday and Wednesday.  Then there was “Restaurant.”  That’s it, just a diner called, “Restaurant” in four foot tall, neon light outlined letters.  I couldn’t find a sign for the actual name, but it didn’t matter.  The parking lot was filled; the tiny building with big windows was ringed with cars and trucks because patrons know that the food is good and the conversation is plentiful.

The land is wide open in this area of Indiana.  Acres of soybeans and corn that is currently shin high—“knee high by July.”  There were also open, freshly plowed fields ready for some seed.  And “Pappy’s Market;” a yellow tin roofed, 12 x 12, white shelved structure holding vegetables and other produce from the farm just up the lane.

All this scenery stirred my emotions and my thoughts.  It made me ponder the character of the Midwest—Indiana in particular.  It brought to mind John Wooden—a true definition of the word legend; Carl Erskine, Brooklyn Dodger hurler and local model of character and “The Hick from French Lick,” Larry Bird, one of the greatest basketball players of all time who appears to live simply and honestly in the day-to-day.  Something about all of this made me feel a sense of peace; of being at rest, secure, and grateful for what I have been given and challenged to do in the world.

I am not naïve in this feeling or reflection.  I have visited Cairo (Egypt, not Indiana), London, Mumbai, Delhi, and other megalopolis cities across the planet.  Indiana, too, has its bright lights and faster pace life of Indianapolis, South Bend, Merrillville, and other larger cities.  All of these have their charm, beauty, and amenities not found in the rural Midwest, but something about this drive along rural IN-15 brought a sense of calm.  It reminded me of what is solid in the world—of being a part of a community, family, rubbing elbows with legends who know your first name, and character.

Indiana carries the name, “The Crossroads of America.”  It is a place where all kinds of highways intersect.  These roads bring together industry, new and old ideas, cosmopolitan and rural values.  Yet, at the heart of it there is still a feel of home; a place where one might find serenity from the hurried pace of life and a calm that affirms life can be good.   I reached my destination with peace of mind, feeling that I, too, should spend my life inviting people to “come and sit a spell” when our own paths crossed; to welcome them to enjoy good conversation, hospitality, and to find inner-peacefulness that will keep them grounded no matter where they travel or what they experience.    

Blessings, grace and peace for your day.  I am looking forward to when our paths cross.

David Neidert