I recently was on my way across the western part of Wisconsin to attend a number of meetings. I understood that the construction on the highway going west was now complete. So with a light heart and an eager spirit, I set off only to be greeted by an orange vested man, with a large grin, and a STOP sign. This intersection was only 12 miles from my turn onto the freeway heading north. His detour sign pointed south. There was no other exit going west or north. I had no other escape. I had to “obey” the sign like all the other drivers. Soon I noticed I was heading to the vacation land of the Wisconsin Dells. This is where all those signs stating, “Wisconsin Fun ~ Exit NOW” will direct you. But I didn’t want to go there! Turning around and trying to locate another route would have made me late for my first meeting.
So dutifully I journeyed south and then west and entered a place that people come to get away from it all. In fact, they were all there! I found myself in a traffic chain like “bumper cars” slowly making our way through the narrow streets, trying not to strike anyone crossing the road while looking down on their Smart Phone. I asked myself, “Is this part of Pokémon Go?” I soon was in the middle of town. I said to myself, “This looks like Great America, Disney Land, and Las Vegas, all nestled within these 10 miles of detour!” There were shops for golfing, crafts, candy, souvenirs, eateries, and tourist information. That was on just one block! There was more of the same as I moved with turtle-like speed through the maze of people and shops.
There seemed to have been miles of this “Wisconsin Fun” while I was trying to negotiate pace and people, and not get too distracted and lose the DETOUR signs. I remember as a youngster that this was a beautiful area of fresh lakes and rock formations. It had been carved out after the glacier had melted some 15,000 years ago. Now I have found that it is “sky-scrapered” by hundreds of water slide rides. In fact, the websites claim “The Dells” to be the water ride capital of the world! How did I miss the fact that it has over 200 water rides!
Eventually, I made my way to a ramp and exited with laughter and laser like speed to head north. I felt freed from the shackles of this “Wisconsin Fun”, and mused that possibly there was a conspiracy between the Department of Tourism and the Department of Transportation. Then, once I started to breathe normally again, I asked myself, “What was my learning in all of this redirection?” Well here it goes:
I learned . . .
• That I sometimes have to travel a route that may not be my choice, but it offers me experiences of humanity of which I can take to prayer, and be in solidarity with those seeking relief from the burdens of their lives.
• That I can be grateful that families and friends have a place to “get away” and laugh and connect with each other so that they will be refreshed, renewed, and relaxed.
• That God was there in the experience, nudging me to trust the path, to stay focused, and delight in the creativity all around me. And . . .
• That I believe and know that in the spiritual life, there are oftentimes “orange-vested” events or circumstances that challenge us to discover the gift of courage and creativity that is always “under construction” in us through God’s grace!