I'm starting to think the America depicted in media and entertainment is not the true America I find out my door. Some may think the true America is just small towns and countryside peach stands, but I live in central NJ and I just experienced what our country is about by driving a half mile down the road to get a pork roll egg and cheese sandwich. The owner was talking to a local about the blessings and struggles of work, tracts with Gospel verses cluttered the counter, and a few who had lost their way stumbled in asking for directions.
I live in a rural town in the middle of everywhere, but when people get off the nearby interstate they immediately see horses and a Tractor Supply store so they think they're in the middle of nowhere. We have fun giving them roundabout directions that will give them a scenic route of this little patch of horse country in NJ. We don't mean to tease them, just to make them slow down a bit, to stay awhile and to not worry so much about not knowing exactly where they're headed. Because when you're experiencing the true America you're on the right path, and when you're on the right path you can't get lost. No matter where it takes you, that's where you need to be.
I recently took a trip to St. Louis for the first young adult Encounter conference. As inspiring as it was to hear great speakers and meet fellow Catholics my age from around the country, my greatest inspiration came from experiencing a new part of the country. I visited the small historic town of St. Charles and visited the Gateway Arch, but most importantly I saw vast stretches of land out the plane window that made me give glory to God and feel more patriotic at the same time. I know,July 4 is still a ways off, but to me -- like Toby Keith says -- every day is independence day. The Knights of Columbus understand the importance of patriotism, because America is in fact our mother country -- our fatherland -- so to honor it is in a way to follow the Fourth Commandment. If you've ever learned more about yourself in a far off place you've never been to before, you might understand what I'm talking about.
"When you go through life so sure of where you're headed, then you wind up lost and it's the best thing that could have happened ... sometimes when you lose your way it's really just as well, because you find yourself. That's when you find yourself." -- Brad Paisley