Road Wrecks

For several months, along 101 in Silicon Valley, someone carefully tended a roadside memorial to a lost life. A tiny makeshift shelter on the ground, it housed a jelly jar full of flowers and a saint’s statue. Every morning on my way to the office, as I navigated four lanes of rushing commuters and tractor-trailers, it drew my attention. Who was this person so loved? How could it be that he or she should die here on this impersonal expanse of asphalt? Then as suddenly as it had appeared it was gone. I missed it and wished it could remain there in loving-kindness forever.

 

The place changes. Now, I and my family are in the Andes, the magnificent cordillera. In the morning we traveled up from the great salt flats. The narrow road makes it way up by folding in on itself from one hairpin curve to the next. The shoulder of the road often disappears into thin air.  Sometimes, on the other side, steep walls pin us in. It makes me dizzy. 

 

Suddenly, a wide panorama opens in front of us. A smoking volcano menaces in the distance. Nearby, wild Vicuñas graze in stubby fields that cling to the sides of the mountains. They chide us for bothering them and turn away as our four-wheel-drive approaches.

 

I am driving and praying not to meet a truck racing down against us as we wind upward. Sometimes I do and I grip the wheel. But, more often than not, what meets us as we make a curve is the rusting hulk of a crashed truck and a small roadside memorial—just a small shelter on the ground, protecting a jelly glass of flowers and a saint’s statue. There is no one here to take away the wreck or the memorial. How bold is this small expression of love.  It grips me harder than I can grip the wheel. How lovely to be so loved eternally. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 responses to “Road Wrecks

  1. Nicolas Goles

    This is a good one !

    Loving it!

    -Nico

  2. Erica Schwartz

    Mary,

    This is a gem! Good, thoughtful, visual–we’ve all seen them and wondered.

    You’ve captured those fleeting moments with real passion.

    Erica

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