A New Jersey Driver on Back Country Roads

This back country road was good for my soul.

When I come home from work, I usually take US-202, a four-lane highway. It’s not an ugly route exactly, but it’s not beautiful — too many billboards and gas stations and car dealerships — and I hate the stop-and-go of all the traffic lights.

Recently, I decided to try an alternate route. I bypassed the ramp to 202, found County Road 579, and enjoyed a slow, meandering drive home past farms and pastures and open vistas.

And I realized how much my soul needs the back roads.

I’m a New Jersey driver, literally and figuratively. I like to drive fast. I want to pass people. I hate being passed. I want to press down the gas, hit the cruise control, and fly by scenery and people alike.

This year, health issues have taken me off the highway and onto the back roads. I drive 40 mph instead of 70. I take it slow around the curves. Sometimes I’m the only one on the road.

Overall I’ve enjoyed this slower pace, the chance to enjoy the beautiful views, the opportunity to stop in the middle of the road and snap a picture.

But often in my spirit I’m still on the highway, still trying to keep up and pass and go fast and do.

God didn’t design us for highway living. For the speed, the stress, the competition that wear down our souls as well as our engines.

Whether we realize it or not, we need the quiet, the slow, and the beautiful of the back country roads.

It’s not about the efficiency. It’s not about the speed. It’s not about the destination. It’s about fall country vistas and slow, winding curves and moments of life waiting to be lived.

It’s about the journey.

I haven’t come home on 202 since. Now I take 579. Or 518. Or 610. I look out my windows at the scenery. I drive slowly. I stop and take pictures.

And it’s good for my soul.

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