Shirin McArthur

prayerful pondering

Patchwork Road

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I made a quick trip back to New Mexico this past week. For the first time, I found myself consciously viewing the area where I used to live from a visitor’s perspective. I actually stopped and took pictures at a number of points on the drive, in part with an eye to Instagram posts, but also from the perspective of capturing the amazing summer clouds. And, with my photographer’s eye “switched on,” I found myself noticing things that had not caught my attention when I lived in the area.

IMG_3009This patch of roadway between Lordsburg and Silver City caught my attention because of its patchwork nature. Like so many roads in this country, its rough spots have been patched over, to the point that, in some places, it actually looked like a patchwork quilt, complete with a different color trim.

This road represents, for me, our own life journeys. God lays the foundation, including the shoulders of the road. We come along and lay down other layers: our own agendas, hopes and dreams. These strata are comprised of everything from the food we eat to the moves we make. Then, over time, things happen: accidents and scrapes, cracks and bulges. Others come along and either increase the stresses on our journey or help us patch things over.

At some point, we must recognize that each of our journeys are not, fundamentally, ours at all. Each is laid upon a base—our bodies and souls—that was crafted by our Creator. Each is profoundly influenced by those we meet along the journey, who either help or hinder us along the way—as we also share our own patchwork contributions with others. Yes, we do our part to fashion our journey—but even the choices we make are influenced by the teaching and opinions of others. Just as the scraps in a traditional patchwork quilt are collected from a variety of sources and pieced into a new creation, our journeys are never ours alone.

Of course, this also means that we can look with delight—or sometimes chagrin—at the patchwork contributions we make to others’ roads. Our capacity for influencing others’ journeys comes with responsibility—for contributing patches instead of stresses, resurfacing instead of additional cracks.

Who have been the most significant patchwork contributors to your road? When have you been able to provide patches for others’ journeys? Have you taken time, then or later, to give thanks to God, and to those others, for their support?

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