The kids and I recently started a routine of taking long drives on Friday afternoons after school; not every week, but frequently. We usually swing through the Starbucks drive-through and then head to the coast via Rancho Santa Fe. What began as a pandemic coping strategy turned into one of the highlights of our week! We’ve had some wonderful conversations about school and life during these pretty drives.
Back in the fall, Teo and I discovered a cool little used bookstore in Encinitas called Artifact Books. For the past month or so, I kept thinking we should hit this bookstore on one of our Friday drives, and this past Friday was the day. After getting fuel, both for our vehicle and us, we headed to Encinitas by a different route through Rancho Santa Fe. It was a beautiful, sunny day and the drive was so lovely! Winding, tree-lined roads, with vegetation in full spring bloom.
Early in the drive, Sienna turned on Michael Card’s The Life, Disc 2. This two disc sets the life of Jesus from his incarnation through his resurrection to music. The second disc includes songs covering his passion and crucifixion and the CD was already on track #7. I warned the kids, “We’re about to get to Jesus’s trial and crucifixion, so the tone of these songs will be sad and dark.”
“We know, it’s okay,” Sienna replied.
As the music played, Teo asked some historical and theological questions about the song lyrics, most of which Sienna promptly answered while I marveled at her Biblical knowledge. Bible class at school the past three years have definitely infiltrated her mind and heart.
We made it to the coast, parked in the tiny lot, masked up and walked to the entrance of the store. We were greeted with a posted sign: “Closed on Friday, March 26th, sorry for the inconvenience”.
“Oh man, they’re closed!” I exclaimed. Teo read the sign aloud and we all looked at one another, bewildered.
We got back in the car and I did a quick search for other used bookstores in the area, to no avail. “Well, guys, I guess we’ll just head home,” I said. “Yep. Okay,” they conceded. We all rolled with this change of plans quite easily. The kids are pretty tired by Friday afternoon and seem to enjoy the peace of the drive more than anything.
One of my favorite Michael Card songs came on as we started our drive back through Encinitas, Joy in the Journey:
There is a joy in the journey
There’s a light we can love on the way
There is a wonder and wildness to life
and freedom for those who obey
All those who seek it shall find it
A pardon for all who believe
We turned down a particularly picturesque street, lined with mesquite trees and pastures full of horses. Sienna suddenly sighed and said, “I’m just so happy with life right now.” It was such a relatable moment, that feeling of everything being right in the world. I smiled at her and patted her leg. When these tender moments arise, I try to really soak them in.
Reflecting on our drive, I marveled that the bookstore being closed was just a funny anecdote to our trip. It didn’t ruin the outing or leave us feeling disappointed and frustrated. Having an attitude of “Oops, these things happen!” helped me accept the moment and not dwell on it. What I’ll remember from this Friday drive was simply being with the kids, sharing sacred music and enriching conversation.
You can’t plan or predict when moments of connection and meaning will occur, but being present helps you enjoy them fully.