Manchester Center, Vermont

It’s been five weeks since I moved to Vermont, but I’ve spent almost half of that time elsewhere. Medical appointments, car troubles, and home improvements have returned me to Wareham more than I expected. It’s been wonderful in some ways, and frustrating in others – being pulled in more than one direction brings some difficulties even as it keeps me connected to more than one place. I’ve spent time with my sons and many friends, but I long to get settled into my new home. So I headed back to Vermont on Friday morning, via Lakes Region, New Hampshire; for an extra couple of hours travel time, I could drop in on my mother and sister in New Durham.

Getting from New Durham to Manchester Center takes almost the same amount of time as going from Wareham to New Durham – but it’s a shorter distance. There are major highways connecting SouthCoast Massachusetts to Lakes Region, New Hampshire, but not so much from New Durham to Manchester Center. It’s a lot of 35mph zones, sharp turns, and small towns. In typical New England fashion, you can’t get there(directly) from here.

My starting point was the same road that I learned to drive on, my ending point the town I now call home. Between the two, a few busy highways and a lot of back roads. Craft fairs, hiking trails, and town centers dotted the drive through the Fall foliage. Other than a brief pass by Manchester exits, I didn’t drive on any major routes. Many houses, few gas and radio stations. It took almost three hours to get from one small town in New Hampshire to another small town in Vermont.

Some might consider that a waste of time, going from one small place to another with no direct route in between. But I see it more as a metaphor for the spiritual life. There are no direct and easily identified routes, and there are many blind turns along the way. What seems like a road going nowhere is the only way to get from here to there. It takes time and effort, and it’s damn inconvenient at times. But that’s one of the major truths: convenience and speed aren’t the point or the destination. Getting home is.