Almost Heaven, West Virginia

So I spent the last two days driving, driving, driving, and then driving some more.  More than  twenty road hours and over one thousand miles from my home outside of Kansas City, Missouri to West Virginia. Way too many 18-wheelers and fast food signs and bugs on the windshield and bottles of water and rest stops to count.

As much as I seem to be complaining, you may wonder why I would subject myself (and you!) to such a lengthy drive. There’s an easy answer.  The inaugural Leaning Into Loss retreat is being held here at Priest Field Pastoral Center this first weekend in November (the photo below is theirs) … plus my dad turns 90 later in the month and he’s down in North Carolina.

Thursday morning as I was driving through southeastern Ohio into southwestern Pennsylvania, I realized I hadn’t even known how very much I missed that scenery.  Those sweeping farm vistas, those beautiful fall colors, those amazing river gorges, those old towns along the turnpike … it was like seeing friends I’d forgotten existed.

With the exception of the past six years, I spent all of my adult life near those views.  I regularly drove those roads … often with family members or friends, sometimes alone.  I didn’t know how much I missed the feel of a car moving my body around those wide sweeping mountain curves until I experienced again.  It is good to be here … back in “Almost Heaven, West Virginia” (to quote John Denver).

Funny.  I didn’t even know it was a loss … and now it’s not … I am here.

Do you have a story about a loss that you didn’t even know about ’til you recovered it?  I’d love to hear about your experience … I’d hate to think I was alone in this discovery.


Priest Field Tree Fall

One thought on “Almost Heaven, West Virginia

  1. This post about having a loss you didn’t know about until you recovered it reminds me of an experience I had this summer. It was late summer, late afternoon and I was running up my country road. The sun was low in the sky – that golden late afternoon light – and I was relaxed as I ran. As I passed a thicket, a large doe bolted across in front of me so close I could feel her air. She ran into the shadowed woods on the other side of the road. Completely unintended my attention and consciousness followed her into her world – her white tail leading me deep into the woods with her. She stopped and looked back at me, and I was there with her for a moment in the beautiful eternal presence of the natural world, and I expanded into it. As soon as I felt its presence, a longing for it arose almost as a memory of something lost, and tears came to my eyes. I gazed longingly and lovingly, and felt joy at the experience. And I turned and ran on.

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