I was riding my motorcycle from Houston to San Antonio on IH10 when I noticed an off ramp that led to old highway 90. I had traveled that road many times with my grandmother 70 years ago before IH10 existed. “I wonder what the road is like now,” I said to myself. I took the off ramp, and as Robert Frost said, “It made all the difference.”
I rode through quaint little towns that had been bypassed when IH10 was built. They had names, like Flatonia, Schulenberg, Weimar, Waelder, Ammansville, and Swiss Alp. Some of them I remembered as a small child. It was turning out to be nostalgic trip into my past.
I saw a sign pointing to a town called Dubina. “I wonder what that town is like?” Once again, I took the road less traveled. I spotted a white church steeple in the distance. “I wonder what that church is doing out here in the middle of nowhere.” When I arrived at the church, I saw a beautiful white country church that looked like a postcard. It was sitting in a picturesque country setting with green fields, and of course, a cemetery. The parking lot was empty. “I wonder if the church is open.” I walked to the door and opened it. What I saw, left me speechless. I had stumbled across one of the painted churches of Texas.
German and Czech immigrants built the churches in the late 1800s and early 1900s. They were painted to emulate the beloved churches they left behind in Europe. Many of the immigrants were fleeing religious oppression, wishing to practice their faith in peace. The churches are perhaps the most awe-inspiring example of the rich German and Czech culture in the Texas Hill Country. The Painted Churches feature hand-painted sculptures, angels, filigree, faux-marble, and stencils. Some of them, are listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.
I wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t asked myself a “wonder” question. I can tell you what would have happened. I would have stayed on the quickest and most efficient route from Houston to San Antonio with the thousands of other bored people who had not “wondered” about those off ramps. I would have gotten home a lot sooner, and I would have missed out on a wonderful afternoon of discovery.
Have we Google Mapped our life to find the quickest and most efficient way to get to our destination while passing too many of those off ramps that have so much to offer?
I wonder what would happen if we regained the natural curiosity we had as a child when we were filled with wonder about the world around us. Maybe we should start asking more wonder questions and taking more off ramps.