This summer I drove through the United States of America, several large states, the ones that seem to get larger the more west one travels. I’m in love with America. Still. The people are kind and generous, unfailingly optimistic in spite of the mess we’re in.
In Amarillo there was no beloved Chris Mathews, no Rachel Maddow on the television to help me figure things out. Everywhere Fox News. Still the people are fine and friendly; they serve waffles in the shape of Texas and they love their Texas. I spoke with a man on a motorcycle with a ZZ Top beard and the only word I understood was “dowg.” I did better in Israel.
I spent some time in Israel this summer and it is also a great country. My Hebrew was excellent. Everywhere I went Israelis wanted to know how come my Hebrew was so good. “I got sick,” I said, “and I stopped thinking.” This is a funnier joke in Hebrew.
They have their oligarchists in Israel too, and many of their problems are quite similar to our problems except for the threats of war from all sides. But the internal problems are strikingly similar.
Driving through America this summer I had a lot of time to think. I told stories to my first child that he had never heard. I explained to him who I was when I met his mother. I spent some time with the sweep of my little life.
Then I slept in the town on the desert of America where my spiritual awakening began that would lead me to Jerusalem and the full catastrophe, as Zorba and the Buddhists used to say. No dreaded nostalgia, just a lot to think about in living.
On the road bringing stories, songs, teachings, and poetry west of the continental divide, I am full up. It was wonderful driving across America.
This is a big and beautiful country, still young enough that none of us should relinquish our optimism to the pessimists. There is so much to love.