Today we wondered when we woke up, if we could make it all the way to our rented home in San Tan Valley. We were both sceptical that we could do it, but we got up early and headed out. Our practice is to leave after first light (this is easy) and to stop before dark. Many of our friends travel with much more diligence. We are slackers. We meander.
At first Sarah (the GPS) was asleep again. She just does not like the cold. Like us. But Chris made a spectacular discovery. She pulled out a small disk from the GPS and warmed it up in her warm hands. Sarah sprung to life! There was as much rejoicing in our car as there was in heaven when the prodigal son returned. We made a radical decision. We said Sarah could pick the route. Let the GPS select the fastest route. That is precisely what we did. And it worked.
It did not take long and Sarah led us right back to Interstate 40. Sadly, we missed Cadillac Ranch as a result. We stopped for gas where I saw a green T-shirt with a John Deer Tractor emblazoned on it and the simple words: “John Beer.” Can you get more profound than that?
On the way we continued to listen to NPR. They had some kind of a New Year’s Eve show. It was very interesting. They played a small part of a famous speech by Martin Luther King. We listened to the speech and marvelled at King’s abilities as an orator. His images were compelling. His cadences were hypnotic. His phrasing slow, letting his words sink into the hearts and minds of the hearers. His message was riveting. Even though King knew there was no direct path to freedom. He knew the road was crooked. There were turns and cutbacks that only a meanderer could traverse. I don’t know if there could have been a better way to launch a New Year. What a great thing to hear on a New Year’s Day in Texas!
Here is part of that speech (I apologize for not getting every word right as the recoding was not as clear as it could be):
I must confess my friends, the road ahead will not always be smooth. There will still be rotten places of frustration, meandering points of bewilderment (that hit home for me the meander!) There will be inevitable setbacks. There will be those moments when the buoyancy of hope will be transformed into the fatigue of despair. Our dreams will sometimes be shattered, and our ethereal hopes blasted. We may again with tear drenched eyes have to stand beside the burial of some courageous civil rights worker whose life will be snuffed out by the dastardly acts of bloodthirsty mobs, but difficult and painful as it is, we must walk on in the days ahead with an audacious faith in the future and as we continue our charted course we may gain some consolation in those great words so nobly left by that great black bard who was also a freedom fighter of yesterday, James Weldon Johnson:
Stony the road we trod. Better the chastening rod we cast felt in the days when hope unborn had died. Yet with a steady beat our weary feet come to the place for which our fathers sigh, we have come over the way that with our tears has been watered. We have come treading our pass through the blood of the slaughtered out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last where the bright gleam of our bright star is cast.”
Let this affirmation be our ringing cry, it will give us the courage to face the uncertainties of the future. It will give our tired feet new strength as we continue our forward stride toward the city of freedom. When our days become dreary with low hovering clouds of despair when our nights become darker than a thousand midnights let us remember there is a creative force in this world working to pull down the giant mountains of evil. A power that is able to make a way out of no way, that can transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows. Let us realize that the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice. Let us realize that William Cullen Bryant is right, “truth, crushed to earth, shall rise again.” Let us go out realizing that the Bible is right, ‘Be not deceived.’ God is not lost. Whatsoever a man soweth, that, he shall also reap. This is our hope for the future with this faith we will be able to sing in some not distant tomorrow with a cosmic past we have overcome; we have overcome; deep in my heart I did believe we would overcome.”
I actually listened to the speech again courtesy of YouTube. Sometimes I love technology. Martin Luther King like all of us fell short of perfection, but he was a truly great man. I could not help comparing his speech to tweets I have read about the current occupant of the Whitehouse. The comparison is shocking. King spoke without belittling anyone. He did not attack anyone. He did not brag about himself. He did not spew out ill thought out political Pablum. He just spoke to encourage people to continue the good fight no matter what the obstacles, no matter what backward steps they have to take. He knew the road to justice was not straight and true. But the arc of the moral universe bends towards justice. He believed that. I want to believe that.
We also listened to CBC radio by virtue of some new technology–a CBC app. We could listen to highlights streamed to our car speaker. It was fantastic. The discussion of modern work was extremely interesting. I loved the quote from Bertrand Russell the hero of my youth (and old age too come to think about it): “The end of civilization is to fill leisure time intelligently.”
At Holbrook Arizona, Sarah told us to turn south and we obediently complied. The roads were in excellent shape. Chris put on my fantastic playlist of songs–the best ever playlist. We listened to 3 hours of wonderful music.
The only problem was the winding mountain road at night. As long as it was light it was all right, but it got dark before we were done. In our eagerness to make it all the way to San Tan Valley we forgot about this winding road. That gave us more stress than we liked. Old people don’t need stress.
We arrived in San Tan Valley Arizona about 8 p.m. tired and stressed out but happy. I did not take long to crash.