In the Dust

“And I know now that all the time I was trying to get
out of the dust,
the fact is,
what I am,
I am because of the dust.
And what I am is good enough.
Even for me.”
―Karen Hesse, Out of the Dust

Driving deep in Kansas on a two-lane highway with a tracker-trailer bearing down on me, I calmly pump the brakes just enough so that he can get back into his lane and we don’t collide. I am scanning the radio and it loops; there is no reception out here.

“You’ll find yourself in Kansas,” predicted my brother-in-law.

Then he instructed me to keep feeding the thirsty engine with oil.

I had named her Tallulah, Choctaw for “leaping waters” but now I wondered whether I hadn’t set her up to have a drinking problem. (How un-PC of me.)

Driving deep in Kansas (is there such a thing as deep in such a flat state?) on a two-lane highway I absorb the change in landscape, from dusty and rocky to grassy. It grows more lush as I go north, till I hit Nebraska and things really get green.

I have a long day of driving so I cannot stop at the Orphan Train Museum–though I am sorely tempted. What could that be?

Earlier in the day, when I passed through the Dust Bowl, I thought of all the people’s crushed dreams.

Then the radio finds a station and booms, “Christ will lead you!”

There you go, I think. I’m finding myself in Christ in Kansas.

Driving deep in Kansas on a two-lane highway I feel my spirits sink. I’m thinking about the rubble and the rubbish that my past few years have been. Depression? In the middle of Kansas? At first the low feeling depressed me in itself, but then I decide to embrace the sorrow.

“Find the thread of good,” I tell myself.

In my mind I am weaving through an elephant graveyard.

How does one pick a narrative when it’s all equally precious and worthless?

I am driving down a two-lane highway in Kansas feeling the blackness creeping in, when I remember how condemned I felt by the psychological testing at the missions agency. The psychologist did his best to be kind, but it seemed a sin to be a sorrower.

The fact remains: my chart “should have been” like so, and it was… Like so not.

“They don’t account for outliers,” my father had sniffed.

How did a child of two people who spoke truth to power wind up cowering before a psychologist?

I am driving, driving, driving; I am filling the car with gas; I am checking the oil.

I am wondering, confound it, when God will let me move on.

I am driving down a four-lane highway in Nebraska hoping someone else will tell this story because I sure don’t want to.

I am telling God I don’t want to be a missionary; I don’t want to go back to the place I call home; I don’t want anything to do with Christians.

And still the pastor’s message rings in my ears: “Christ will lead you.”

– Sister Still

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