I had to leave Sedona well before dawn and regretted that I’d be missing the views from 89A North, one of the U.S.’s more scenic roadways. But the moon was out, lighting snow-sprinkled mountainsides and peaks with mystical, iridescent royal blue hues, now appearing, now disappearing behind curves.
My overnight stopover in Albuquerque was near a mausoleum where, to my astonishment, a thick wall with names, birth and death dates, and occasional plastic flowers, held coffins stacked six high. The next morning I again started before dawn, traveling east on I-40 as the sun rose before me, a huge, radiant orange orb that so illumed every watermark, scratch and dust particle on my “clean” windshield that I could barely see. Such bright, head-on light is humbling, I thought, for it shows every flaw and failing. Yet the very light that makes flaws and failings visible is also the light by which a person can rectify them, or perhaps learn to live with them without sorrow and, eventually, see past them.
When I crossed the Texas border I half expected to see expensive, shiny pickups parked on the roadside waiting patiently for their owners—weathered Republicans wearing cowboy boots and hats, standing in the open scrub shooting ducks with rifles. Instead, the first words spoken to me in that Lone Star state were from a thirty-something radiant, Afro-American gas station attendant who, smiling and looking right at me said, “Have a blessed day!” What a wonderful thing to say.
I can’t remember any other time in my life when someone has said that to me.