13 March 2013

The long and winding road

Labyrinth at New Harmony
Last night I did it.  After three years and three months and thousands of miles....I finished Blue Highways.  In an afterward added by the author in 1999, William Least Heat-Moon stated that he cut it from over 800 pages to the paltry 411 pages....that took me over three years to read.

There are aspects about the author's journey that encircled the American landscape I found appealing-but then, I love traveling off-interstate.  It is the only way to truly see what America is and what we are not.  And maybe what we'd like to forget that we are.  He often inserted Native American thoughts, or maybe revelations, in his discoveries.  Toward the end of the book he wrote how he traced on a map the path he took from Missouri east to the coast and then in a clockwise route followed the borders of the US until he reached Maryland and headed west again.  He compared the path to a Hopi symbol that speaks of paths and labyrinths.

Hopi symbol
How fitting then in the last two pages of Blue Highways the author finds himself in New Harmony, Indiana tracing the path of the historic labyrinth I myself have wandered a few times in my life.  The long and winding path to a small stone cottage in the center....the destination.  He found it unfortunate that the "correct" path had been so worn as to remove the mystery of the journey.

The journey.  In that we find our true calling, our true destination, don't we?

I can only guess the man I would be without the dead-ends, turn-backs, and temporary lost-ness I have felt over my life.  I can believe that a life without those would be easier, for sure.  But the journey filled with the experiences that have trained or retrained my mind, led me to a deeper understanding of the spiritual condition of our world, and has provided both hope and consternation is in fact the destination of the soul.

Comfortable lives are not lived at all.  A life not challenged is not successful regardless of wealth or status.  And a believer's life lived without chastening or trials is weak at best.

I think if we know our destination there is no joy in the journey.  And too often we set our destination as a certain amount of comfort or wealth, and of course it never is enough.  So we push our destination out further only to miss the people and places along the path.  Instead, like the purpose of the labyrinth, each step should be met with contemplation.  Of knowing.  Of experiencing what God has for each of us in each step we take.....even when it feels like we're stuck or lost.

I don't think I intended this post to take such a turn.....much like the path of a labyrinth.  But here we are.  Let's pray that God directs our steps, but that we stop to consider each of those moments in our lives and not so much what we perceive as our destination.  God, let my journey be the thing that honors you, not my successes.

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