Would you like to take a little ride downhome with me?
Imagine driving on the highway, which is symbolic of our journey through life. In the story we always turn right, because it's important to make the right choices. Fannie Jane always says:
The signs along the road represent answers which are right in front of us - if we would only listen to that gut feeling when you just know.
Tired from your busy day and overwhelmed with your never ending list of things to do, you feel stressed. The road construction has traffic backed up for miles, and who knows how long you'll take to get home.
Road crews wave traffic into a single lane, and of course nobody will let you merge left. You put on your blinker and wait in the right lane, hoping someone will let you in. With a big sigh you say out loud: "There must be a better way than this". (It's ok to talk to yourself, you're the only one in the car.)
The traffic goes from bumper to bumper to an absolute standstill. You turn on the radio and "Take me home, country roads" is playing. You haven't heard that song in ages.
As you inch forward, you notice a sign:
Hmmmm. Wonder what that's all about? Up ahead you see another sign:
Well, you've never seen a sign like that before! You're already in the right lane so you might as well turn off. Not getting anywhere this way anyhow.
After the exit you must turn right or left. Left takes you back to the highway, so you turn right.
After driving for a few minutes you begin to see corn field, miles of white fences surrounding cows grazing in green pastures. There is an occasional bright red barn dotting the landscape, and up ahead is a big green tractor slowly making it's way down the road. The highway mess is all just a faint memory, and you feel the stress lifting. You hum along to the radio and crack the window open for some fresh country air. You see another sign:
and you do just that, even though you didn't think you were going that fast. Now you're really curious. What is all this about? Soon, another sign:
and you take a deep breath. Up ahead, set way back from the road, is a big yellow farmhouse. You see another sign:
At the front of a long curved dirt driveway you see:
Out on the wrap-around front porch sits an elderly woman in a wooden rocking chair, knitting as she rocks back and forth. She rises from her chair and sets down her knitting. She puts out her hand to greet you, and you can't help but smile. She reminds you of your grandma with her cotton dress, sensible shoes, and a brightly colored apron tied around her waist. She welcomes you to her home, motioning for you to sit in the chair next to her.
Several mason jars and a large glass pitcher filled with lemonade sits on top of an old oak barrel. She pours a glass and offers it to you. The aroma of freshly baked cookies is more than you can resist, and when you bite into the delicious still warm cookie you tell her this must be the most delicious cookie you've ever had. You smile and reach for another. When she laughs you notice tiny little smile lines around her eyes, and you know they are there for a reason. Her bright blue eyes twinkle, reflecting the last rays of the setting sun.
She seems to be happy to have company and amuses you with stories. She talks about her family, her chickens, this year's garden, and the weather. She tells you about her love of creating with her hands and all the things she's made over the years. She speaks of old ways, her faith, and the virtues of working hard and living a simple life. You tell her a little bit about yourself, but mostly sit quietly, relaxing and enjoying her stories. As the sun sets in the west, the sky paints stunning streaks of pink, orange, and yellow, and you comment on how beautiful it is. She tells how she comes out on the porch every evening to see the sunset.
As you think back to the sign that said "There is a better way" you realize "Yes . . . there is a better way.
The sun has almost completely disappeared over the horizon, and you stand to leave. You thank her for her hospitality and she says "Come back any time, and bring the family! We'll pick some apples and make a pie." You promise to do just that. She holds your hand as she walks you to the car, and you find yourself wishing you didn't have to leave.
Fannie jane pauses to light the old black oil lamp on the side of the driveway. "You just wouldn't believe how happy I am to see this old light when I'm finding my way home at night." she says. "Like they say, there's no place like home." She points to the sign hanging under the light. "This sign reminds me every day what is important to me".
She gives you a warm hug, turns, and walks back to the farmhouse. You stand there for a moment , looking at the sign . . and now you understand.
You need to not simply live, but live simply. Always go in the right direction.
Slow down, and relax, and do what makes you happy . . . because , as the sign says - happiness is handmade.