My parents own a VW camper van,
a real beater (brown, with a hand-painted yellow stripe down the side)
the kind you usually see propped up on cinderblocks
in some overgrown, midwest junkyard.
It is the child of my mother’s mid-life crisis,
purchased without consulting my father,
whose irritation quickly dissolved during their first camping trip.
I’m not sure how,
but that automobile has become a meeting place
for two people who,
all my life
have seemed painfully separate.
It takes them all kinds of crazy places,
that common ground on four wheels-
it sets up house in the high mountains they love,
putters across long stretches of desert highway,
drives them to small town diners
and into quirky encounters with other traveling eccentrics.
The thing breaks down all the time, of course,
and being a foreign car, and old,
it’s a pain in the rear to find both parts and an able mechanic.
The rest of practical America would cave in and buy a sedan,
to save the money, if nothing else.
But not my parents.
Unlike many other things in life,
they seem to believe, without question,
that the van is worth it.
In some small way,
that nasty brown van gives me hope,
suggests the existence of a promising principle.
In so many ways, I, too, feel a bit like a beater-
like I break down easily and am hard to fix,
like I fall apart all too often.
I imagine myself the kind of heart that should be propped up on blocks,
alone in some weed-infested junkyard
reserved for the relationally inept.
I spend most of my time
convinced that I live in a world that would much prefer
more economic, stylish, and reliable-
a lot less putter and clank and exhaust.
But maybe, just maybe,
I have the hidden value of my parent’s van-
that secret treasure, that diamond in the rust.
Perhaps the Father has made me to be
a safe place for broken people,
an open door to shared adventure.
Yes, maybe I, despite the toil and cost and roadside fixes
will someday, by someone,
been seen as totally,