Tailgate spirituality

During our Adult Forum at one of the congregations I serve, a member mentioned that sometimes he goes outside and sits on the tailgate of his truck and ponders lifes’ mysteries.  Another member mentioned that he too does this as well.  The wisdom these two people offered to the group discussion from these tailgate ponderings were absolutely marvelous. 

There is a different perspective that one can develop when placing oneself in a setting that is a bit different from the usual.  The usual perspective one has of pick-up trucks is from the driver’s or passenger’s seat.  We face forward and steer the vehicle on the road, whether that road is paved, gravel, or dirt.  From the tailgate, one gets to look where one has been, gets to look up at the sky, the clouds, the stars in the universe.  When sitting on the tailgate, one is not too concerned with the direction one is going in, one simply enjoys where one is.  These are profound spiritual perspectives that are important as we are usually more concerned with the direction we are headed rather than just enjoying the moment.   We need these moments of respite to allow our spirits to breathe with the wind instead of fighting the headwind.   

As a child, I used to ride in my father’s pick-up truck over to the fields and woods that my grandparents owned.  To watch the dust get picked up and swirl behind the truck was a beautiful sight. I remember sitting there and watching the tall sunflowers that grew along the graveled road bob their heads up and down as the truck passed by.   I remember our beagle, Booze, would barely be able to contain himself in the truck as we approached the brook.  He would jump to one side of the truck and then the other and then at the opportune moment would jump out to run in the fields.  There was a sense of joy in the freedom, Booze displayed at riding in the back of the pick-up truck. 

More recently, I rode in the back of a truck south of Chiapas, Mexico when the group I traveled with was going to El Pacayel, a small ejido in the mountains near the Guatamalen border.  The bed of the truck had a wood structure with canvass attached to it that provided a covering over head.  So it was hard to see the terrain except through a few openings in the front and in the back of the truck.   Perspectives were limited by this arrangement.  Yet, it made the ride through this terrain mysterious and wonderfully exciting. 

At one point in our riding this truck, we stopped at a house where the farmers had steamed white corn and were selling it to passer bys. To the corn we applied mayonaise and hot sauce and it was the best corn on the cob I have ever had-both sweet and spicey.   It was a moment of learning more about these marvelous people.  It was a moment of laughing and joking with them.  It was a moment of grace and gratitude of having a small bite to eat and some drink with them.   It was a moment of sharing our common humanity with them.

I wonder if there are others whose spiritualities were informed by the experiences they have had while being in the back of a pick-up truck.  I wonder if others have pondered the questions of life while sitting on the tailgate of their truck.  I’d love to hear your stories…  There is bound to be some nuggets of wisdom that were found while tailgating with one’s heart. 


Rev. Fred L Hammond

Published in: on April 6, 2008 at 9:05 pm  Comments Off on Tailgate spirituality  
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