Exiting the interstate at midnight last night in rainy St. Johnsbury, it’s just me in my little silver car, the strange combination of lonely hearts’ radio and tinny country music, and that profound country Vermont darkness. That stretch of interstate rims the outer edge of utter nowhere.
Year ago, returning from a trip to my sister and her husband and their hospital-bound infant, my brother and I had trouble finding his snow-covered truck in the New Hampshire airport parking lot. Maybe it was midnight already, maybe not, but we certainly passed it, driving north on the interstate, where we stopped at a gas station and bought (and drank) terrible coffee. We were so tired we laughed until we were too tired to laugh, and then too tired to talk. Finally, at his house, his wife sat on the stairs and offered us take-out Indian food. I lay on the kitchen floor. Possibly, I even slept there, in a pile of boots and cat food bowls.
The next day, my friend and her 4-year-old drove over the White Mountains in a snowstorm to bring me home to my family — and my four-year-old. At the top of the Crawford pass, I got out of the pickup and brushed snow from the windshield and stood for a moment in all that white, not sure entirely where the unplowed road lay.
But I got back in. Her son waited patiently in his carseat between us. She kept driving. What else could we do? We couldn’t stay there. And, that, perhaps, is all I ever needed to learn about faith.
Miraculously, the snow lessened as we neared the Connecticut River, heading home.