Strangers in Paradise

This post is months later than originally intended, but since I have writer’s block tonight for the paper I should be writing its finally time to get this done.
California Rest Stop

The last time I was in Azusa, California for school, I drove down to San Diego afterward to visit friends.  Along the way there was some typical California traffic so the two hour drive lasted closer to three.  Once past some major construction, I pulled off the freeway for a much needed stretch break in the sunshine.  That’s when I came across a simple yet beautiful place.  The photograph above displays the shadows of a handful of the hundred people wandering this rest stop.  I sat on a picnic bench, with the ocean to my right and a human kaleidoscope before me.  Men, women, and children with languages familiar and new walked around me.  I noticed that I was one of the few Caucasian individuals there, and definitely the only solo visitor to this area.  Everyone was connected with someone else.  And by being there, even without saying a word (other than the obvious long bathroom line complaint), I was connected to them.

There are certain places that I find sacred in life.

  • The front of a church where thousands of sermons were preached, marriages pronounced, funerals grieved, and lives dedicated.
  • The highway connection between I-205 and I-5 south of Portland, where you emerge from 10 minutes in the wilderness into an urban sprawl with the promise that you could always turn back again.
  • The East side of St. Johns Bridge during the Portland Marathon, as the downhill provides blessed relief after 18 miles of running with a promise of 8 miles to go.  And the added bonus that my friend Beth meets met a few blocks later with a Diet Coke.
  • The I-205 bridge passing “Welcome to Oregon” sign.
  • The prayer sanctuary at Westminster Abbey.

And now I add a random California rest stop to the list.

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