Rev. Peter E. Bauer
Everything looks different at night- your visual perspective is different, the feel of the air, the atmosphere is different. Night can feel different especially when you are not familiar with your immediate surroundings.
One time I had to present at a military- sponsored conference on trauma in Flagstaff, AZ. I was supposed to fly from Atlanta, Ga to Phoenix, AZ, pick up a rental car and drive to Flagstaff to stay at the conference center.
When I got to the airport in Atlanta, I found out that the plane would be delayed due to bad weather. Eventually the flight would be cancelled. I was rerouted to another flight on another airline. Now, however, I wouldn’t be leaving Atlanta until 10:00 PM ( EST ) and the flight was bound for Las Vegas, NV. Ironically, the flight would be arriving there about the same time 10: 00 PM (PST ).
The baggage claim area at the McCarran International Airport was lively-lots of bright lights, the sounds of slot machines dinging, and some second-hand smoke in the air. All of this and some sleep deprivation for me !
But I knew that my mission was to get to Flagstaff, AZ by early morning, preferably no later than 6:00 AM as my presentation time for this conference was at 8:00 AM.
I picked up my luggage, got the rental car, and bolstered of course by a lot of caffeine, left the bright lights of the casinos in the rear-view mirror and ventured out on the road into the darkness of the desert.
This was before GPS; so I had to use my road map and the interior lights of the car to guide me and ,oh yes, a lot of prayer. I always pray that I take the right turns and the right direction when I am driving somewhere that is unfamiliar to me.
There are” nudges in the night” that one can experience. When it is quiet and you are thinking, then moments of enlightenment, peace and comfort can be realized.
I drove down Hwy 93 to I-40 and headed East towards Flagstaff, AZ. The quiet of the desert at night, the stillness of the air, the shadows of the cactus, the scene of the occasional jack rabbit scurrying across the road were beautiful, the sound of the Denver radio station on the car radio keeping me awake.
I still felt tired, fatigued, but driven as I knew that I had to get to Flagstaff by early morning.
A few hours later, I rolled into Flagstaff just as the sun was coming up. I finally arrived at the conference center, got my bags and managed to check in at the conference registration desk. Luckily, I was able to find a men’s room that was fully equipped that would allow me to have a most welcome shower and shave and change into my uniform.
Right before I was due to present at the conference, I consumed another cup of coffee. Someone asked me if I had a pleasant trip, and I told them about my all-night drive from Las Vegas. They said “Oh, how horrible!
I replied, “No, it wasn’t horrible; tiring yes, but the time spent driving allowed me to think again about what is important in life- being alive, being loved, knowing that you are needed and valued by others.
“ Those nudges in the night” can remind us again of all that is sacred in life.
May it be so.