"I'm runnin' down that mountain pass at midnight,
Those truckers they all flash their lights at me.
This highway ain't the very best companion,
'cause I know there's somewhere else I'd rather be..."
I love Dan Fogelberg. Over the past few decades, his High Country Snows album has been my companion on many a drive through the winding, narrow roads that criss cross the Rocky Mts. And it was the first few lines, from his song, "Mountain Pass," that tried to be the soundtrack during one difficult late night drive, a couple of weeks ago.
My girlfriends and I had driven from camp, over Independence Pass, through Aspen, and up in to one of the most beautiful high valley pastures I've ever seen for a polocrosse match my daughters, one friend's husband, and a handful of our beloved counselors and campers were competing in that weekend.
The drive up was glorious. Absolutely perfect...in every way. Cloud-dappled Colorado blue skies, shimmering mountain lakes, the underflash of aspen leaves scattering light across the loam-rich forest floor. Tears fell listening to Carrie Underwood's "How Great Thou Art," on Linda's ipod, and the scent of August's promise...cooler September days, aspen golds, sweaters, and hot cocoa were palpable in the air.
Once at the tournament, we were smitten...lost in the day. Riders from Australia, Alburquerque, Durango, and beyond. The dance of horse and rider...more intimate than a tango. Old friendships, new acquaintances that would someday be old friendships. The laughter of teens who share a love for horses and competition, the whinnying of horses who love "the game," and can't wait to parry on the field. And the greenest grass I've ever seen inviting us to "relax, lie back, close your eyes and listen, stay...." So we did.
By the time we left we'd enjoyed watching our kids (and Lach) scrimmage in more than a dozen chukkas. The fast-paced, precise, extraordinarily beautiful choreography of horse and rider...spinning, racing, turning on a dime, dipping to retrieve the ball, tearing down the field, cutting in front of an opponent...it took my breath away. And all this without eating any of the ubiquitous dust that flavored every other polocrosse tournament I've been to. Heavenly. Sigh.
By the time we tore ourselves away...riders still on the field playing as the sun turned the sky a shade of lavender-tinged salmon...we were wondering why we had to go. oh yes, work...we reminded ourselves.
A quick dinner in Aspen, and we'd be "home" by midnight. The food was great, and an hour later we hopped into the car under a quilted black sky scattered with a million stars. It was going to be a lovely, cool ride back down the mountain...
I was the one I'd designated to do the driving, and it didn't take long before I was so ill I could barely speak. This highway was not a good companion...at all. Dancing headlights, shimmering snow reflectors, endless switchbacks....I wasn't doing so well. A couple of emergency stops along side of the road helped...a bit, but there was a part of me that groaned inside, "I can't go one more mile, what if we just stopped here, and slept until the sun comes up?"
But it was Linda's sharing of Carrie Underwood's beautiful How Great Thou Art," that afternoon, and her and Maree's clear love for God, and their trust in His love for me, that kept me going. I knew, with all my being, that they were praying for me...and I could feel it. I could truly feel their prayers, their love, their willingness to laugh with me. And I could feel it more viscerally than I could feel the nausea or dizziness. So I focused that, on actually feeling their love...which I knew, with all my heart, was an expression of God's love...and before we reached home, it was all I could feel.
And you know what? Right where the highway didn't seem like the very best companion, I was already surrounded by the very best friends I could hope to be loved by. Their love was all I needed to remember that the day was blessed, and all was well.
Thank you Linda and Maree...and thank you God...how great Thou art!
There is nowhere else I'd rather have been that night.
It was the best!!