When I graduated from college, I moved to Knoxville, TN for my first “big-girl” job. I loved the area, my boss, my co-workers… everything about it was a perfect fit. Except for the fact that I was eight hours away from family.
Living two states away from them resulted in a lot of driving (in fact, I’ve put about 90,000 miles on my car in just 5 years). Traveling by myself was so stressful… a lot of the time I would leave right after work, meaning I would not arrive at my destination until the wee hours of the morning. There was no one to help with the drive… and I had to be alert the whole time. My route was saturated with semi trucks. And I have to tell you there is nothing more frustrating or terrifying than a semi on a mountain road.
Besides being so far away from family, my best friends also scattered all over the country. In the past 5 years, I’ve traveled to Colorado, Kentucky (twice), Ohio, Wisconsin, Florida, and Tennessee all for weddings. I’ve also been to Georgia, DC, North Carolina and New York multiple times to visit family.
I’m sure one day, when I have children, I will laugh at myself for being such a wimp about traveling by myself and talking about how stressful it is. However, it was an emotional and mental strain for me at that time. And now that I am married and have my own personal chauffeur for the longer trips, I am even more of a wimp about traveling by myself.
That being said, I do have a way of coping… and I thought I might share it today since my own mom is making a long drive to visit my sister. My coping method relies on a prayer I was taught by my middle school religion teacher. In Italian, her last name literally means, “good friend” and she lived up to it.
She wanted all of us to arrive at our destinations safely after school. She taught hundreds- maybe thousands- of students this prayer. We’d all pray it together before we left school at the end of everyday:
“Our Lady of the Highways,
be with us on our journeys.
For all your ways are beautiful
and all your paths are peace.”
To this day, my whole family uses this prayer. When I use it myself, I imagine Our Lady, riding shotgun next to me… like one of my best friends… and her grace and peace forming a kind of bubble around the car… protecting me as I go. It’s lovely.
(While writing this post I discovered there is a longer version of this prayer. If you’d like to see it, click on the link!)