When I lived in Iowa, in the last part of the 20th century, the Avenue of the Saints was under construction. It was the concept of an engineer who wanted drivers to have a direct route between St. Paul, Minnesota, and St. Louis, Missouri. The road is over 500 miles long.
I wasn’t really aware of the highway until I began the process to adopt my son. At the time, most states had reciprocity. I looked at profile books for Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, and Wisconsin. After about three months of searching, I found Terrance’s information and spoke with Missouri Social Services to set up our introduction. The fastest route from Iowa City to St. Louis was the Avenue of the Saints.
I remember that first trip clearly. This was before GPS was an option, so I had to rely on the route I created on a map. The first part of the journey was pretty easy. Part of the new route was incorporated into existing highways. Then, I arrived at the exit to continue to follow the route for the Avenue of the Saints. Parts of the road were under construction, expanding a two-lane road to accommodate an additional lane in each direction. Sometimes, drivers had to wait as traffic was shifted to the only open lane, and we had to watch the flagman for the signal to start or stop.
A little over four hours after I started, I arrived in St. Louis. A restless night and an early morning before I met my son for the first time. A few weeks later, I returned to bring Terrance to his forever home. Even though I had made the journey once before, the second trip was very different.
I started on the journey later than I wanted, and the sun had set before I was halfway there. And then it began to rain. Not a light shower, but a thunderstorm so intense that I couldn’t see beyond the headlights. Like many other drivers, I pulled off to the side of the road, hoping the downpour wouldn’t last long. All I kept thinking about was that the next morning, I would be a mom.
That helped me get through the last of the rainstorms. The return trip to Iowa City was stormy in a different way. Those were my only experiences on this particular route. Construction was completed after we moved away, but our new life together as a family began on the Avenue of the Saints.
Tomorrow is the Epiphany of our Lord or El Día de Los Reyes. Often as we share the story of the Three Wise Men, and their journey to find a different baby, we don’t usually talk about the roads they traveled. I am confident that sometimes they had to find shelter from rain or possibly even sandstorms. They had the star to guide them by night, but what happened if the sky was overcast? They knew they were headed west, but when did their separate journeys converge and how did they discover that they were on the same road?
I believe that is what our own journeys of faith are like. We are headed toward salvation and redemption. We know the destination. We will travel along the same road, some of us walking side by side for days or months, others for years. There will be storms, chaos, joys, and celebrations. All of us are part of the Lord’s avenue of the saints. May we rejoice in the start of a new year and the gift of our Lord and Savior. And Amen.