You know how it is when you’ve gone someplace you were really looking forward to – then you head home. Oftentimes that drive home is simply a boring drive. There’s nothing more to see. Your trip is over and you just want to get home. I did not want to end this awesome month-long journey in that manner!
We left Mt. Rushmore
on the 30th day of our journey, planning three more nights on the road with a few sites yet to see along the way home – east through the rest of South Dakota, across Minnesota and Wisconsin – again through the Upper Peninsula – then south to our home in the “cuff” of the mitten. I wanted every bit of the next few days to “count,” not simply as travel time.
Stunning landscapes accompanied us through the Black Hills and the edge of the Badlands, along Interstate 90 – an Interstate being a rarity for us, but we wanted to stop and see Dignity, which was at a rest area near Mile 265. And this stretch along I-90 was stunning until . . .
. . . the smoke filled the atmosphere above us.
At first, we thought it was getting hazy – perhaps a rain was coming. But we soon realized it was much more. The wildfires from the west and the north had caught up with us – or we with them.
But today, as I approached her she looked like this:
Surrounded by smoke, she was nonetheless, stunningly beautiful. I stared as I walked closer and took photos from all angles.
“Dignity of Earth and Sky is a soaring sculpture of a native woman standing high on a bluff above the Missouri River. The starquilt is made of 128 diamonds in the colors of the water and sky that surround her. Dignity is 50′ tall, weighs 12 tons, and is made of hundreds of pieces of stainless steel. Dignity honors the Native Nations of the Great Plains.” https://www.lampherestudio.com/dignity
I was humbled to be in her presence. Ron and I took our lunch to the picnic table closest to the statue. The smoke created a somber atmosphere that allowed me to consider the gravity of the history of these Great Plains and of those indigenous peoples, especially those women, who walked here before us, who laughed and worked and cried. And who died here. We did not talk as we ate our lunch that day.
The smoke worsened as we drove northeast, away from the highway to the little area of DeSmet, South Dakota. The Ingalls Homestead was our destination for overnight. We settled in beside just three other travel trailers. Across the gravel road, cattle grazed. It was very quiet. And very strange.
Not a sound could be heard. It was eerie. The smoke was so heavy, I could feel it in my lungs. It hurt. We ran the AC in the trailer to filter the air and kept the windows closed all night, hoping tomorrow would be different. It was.
It rained during the night, and we were told that rain cuts smoke. We could still smell it, and it still clouded the atmosphere, but it no longer pierced our lungs. As we drove east and later northeast, the smoke lessened.
Skies were still hazy when we crossed the Mississippi River whose headwaters I had waded nearly 4 weeks ago in North Dakota.
We’d never traveled these roads before, yet they were familiar – like you’re headed home. We drove through Fairibault, Minnesota, and were reminded of the beautiful Fairibault Blankets we had retailed when we owned North Woods; Ron and I still sleep under a cozy Fairibault Woolen Blanket. Red Wing, Minnesota represented the Red Wing shoes, carried locally by Jim Gaglio. This land was somehow familiar: farmlands and feed stores; Baptist churches proclaiming the Word of God.
The haze of wildfires chased us through Minnesota and Wisconsin. It wasn’t until we crossed into Michigan at Menominee that the sun peeked through. Although the weather app revealed warnings of a smoky haze through the Upper Peninsula, the sun penetrated that haze and the roadside flowers led me toward home.
You might have experienced smoke obstructing your vision, as well. It can be stifling. It creates a claustrophobic, eerie atmosphere, in which one feels entirely alone.
It all reminded me of the song, “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” composed in the 1930’s. It has been sung in movies and recordings by Kathryn Grayson, Irene Dunne, and many artists through the years, but my favorite is the 1958 recording by The Platters, which is playing while you read this article.
The song tells the story of love and of loss of love.
“When your heart’s on fire . . . Smoke gets in your eyes.
When your “love has gone away . . . tears you cannot hide . . . Smoke gets in your eyes.”
Love and loss of love. Smoke gets in your eyes with either. You can’t see things clearly. Because “your heart’s on fire.”
Things other than love can cause your heart to be on fire and make smoke get in your eyes, as well. Grief. Rejection. Chronic illness. Suffering – physical or emotional. Abuse. Bitterness. Addiction. The smoke penetrates. It hurts.
Oftentimes it’s a combination of things – compounding problems – stacked one upon the other – each fitting into one of the enemy’s evil strategies: to steal, kill, or destroy.
Smoke gets in your eyes. It’s a ploy by the enemy, Satan.
Our hearts have eyes, too. The Bible speaks about “the eyes of your heart.” And sometimes the eyes of your heart get smoky, too. Mine have. I’m sure yours have, too. That’s why Paul prays for us and models this prayer – that we might pray it for ourselves and for others:
“I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, would give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so that you may know what is the hope of his calling, what is the wealth of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the mighty working of his strength.” Click here.
The fire creating the smoke that permeated this land through which we traveled and creating the smoke that gets in our eyes is likened to wickedness. It consumes. It scorches. And it destroys.
At the beginning of this article, I wrote that I did not want to end to this awesome journey by rushing home. I wanted every moment to count – even these last days. But in reality, the smoke changed all that. It obstructed our vision. It stole our joy. But only for awhile.
That’s exactly what the enemy wants to do – obstruct our vision of purpose and steal our joy. That’s why he makes our vision smoky. We don’t see things as we might. We don’t seeing things clearly. But Jesus does. He sees everything clearly. The lenses of Scripture pierce through the smoke. He knows exactly what we are going through. Approach Him boldly. Click here.
Keep going, my friend. Let Jesus intercede for you. He clearly sees the way.
Cross the hills and valleys, the farmlands and the rivers. There is peace and joy on the other side.
Persevere through the darkness. Jesus will turn it into light.
Observe the Church as you travel, knowing that you are part of a body of Christ – an undying body, redeemed by Christ. Trust the Scriptures.
Memorize the Word as your prayer. It is God’s Word. Pray it back to Him. It is the perfect prayer. I open my Bible to Ephesians, chapter 1. These pages are worn, highlighted, with notes written in blue and black ink and splattered with occasional sticky notes. I’ve prayed this passage (Ephesians 1:17-20) many times and will continue praying it for myself and others until He comes:
Father, God of our Lord Jesus Christ, my Glorious Father, I ask you to give me the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that I may know you better. I pray, Oh, Lord that the eyes of my heart may be enlightened that I might know you better. That I might know the hope to which you have called me. I need that hope. That I might know the riches of your glorious inheritance in me. And that I might know the incomparably great power for us who believe. That power of your mighty strength, which you exerted when you raised Christ Jesus from the dead and seated Him at Your right hand in the heavenly realms.
I yearn for it – the hope, the riches, the power. It’s mine. I’ve inherited it. If you have trusted Christ, it is your inheritance, as well. It’s there for you when the Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.
If you’re uncertain, click here to learn more about becoming a Christ follower.
If you’d like me to bring a message of hope to your group, please contact me. I look forward to it!
Enjoy the classic, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, by The Platters. You’ll want to pause “=” the music player on this page (scroll up or down to find it) and turn on ” >” the music for the song below.
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My true love was true
Oh-oh-oh-oh, I, of course, replied
“Something here inside
Cannot be denied” (Ooh, ooh, ooh)
All who love are blind”
You must realize
Smoke gets in your eyes
As I gaily laughed
To think they would doubt our love
Yet today, my love has gone away
I am without my love (without my love)
Now, laughing friends deride
Tears, I cannot hide
“When a lovely flame dies
Smoke gets in your eyes”
Smoke gets in your eyes
Smoke gets in your eyes