benediction

Bloged in education, seasons, traveling by rod Monday May 7, 2007

Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.

benediction

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

the edge of the shire

Bloged in seasons, time, traveling by rod Saturday May 5, 2007

Godspeed to my graduating seniors. My prayers go with you.

“The wide world is all about you; you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot forever fence it out.”

the edge of the shire

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

sight smell and sound

Bloged in poems, random, traveling by rod Thursday May 3, 2007

full flower moon

I rode hard under the May Day moon,
I banked steep
I leaned low
I rode and rode and rode.
The nocturnal damp was imbued with the
scent of moonlight and honeysuckle.
The orange full flower moon
lit the fields and glanced off the tree leaves.
The forest canopy, a rural skyline.
Straight, open pipes ripping the pristine silence of the night
with 1100 cubic centimeters of music.
Quickly past, peace is left
in my aural wake in the moonlight

night ride

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

the tourist, the pilgrim and the traveler; a long and winding tale of paths traveled and lessons learned

Bloged in apprenticeship, life, traveling, worship by rod Wednesday February 15, 2006

This morning when I posted my Neil Peart quote, I zipped off to his website to copy the URL to link to his initials. This evening while I tried to shed the accumulation of the day from my grey matter – clear off the mental desktop, if you will – so that I could access what I needed to get back to work on tomorrow morning’s chapel, I visited the site once again and clicked to listen to him narrate a portion of his book, “Ghost Rider”.
In just a couple pages, several observations struck me. He comments on the difference between being a tourist and a traveler, and I was made to think of Jack’s and my trip to the canyon last week. For a year, I’d called it a rite of passage, for weeks I’d fantasized, talked and dreamed of it being a pilgrimage. When purchasing airfare, I’d been perfectly willing to take the trip with the most connections, plane changes, and land hours from the canyon to drive the final leg of the journey. I talked with Allison about my desire for this to be the main point of the time together with Jack. The Journey. The point of the Journey is not to arrive.
I had thought, weeks ago, about the difference in a tourist, a traveler and a pilgrim. I thought about the popular theology in the recent past, of our place on the planet. “This world is not my home, I’m just a-passin’ through”, “I am a pilgrim, and a stranger, traveling through this wearisome land, I have a home…” This idea is not all of the past, even Switchfoot declares, “I don’t belong here, I’m gonna carry a cross and song where I don’t belong.” But in these words, there is a bit more of a resolution to own the journey, to be intentional in the getting from here to there. Rich Mullins promises “I’ll carry the songs we learned when we were kids, I’ll carry the scars of generations gone by, I’ll pray for you always and I promise you this, I’ll carry on.” Michael Card recognizes that “there is a joy in the journey, there’s a light you can love on the way, there is a wonder and wildness to life.”
I don’t want to be a tourist, I’ve been self-conscious of this since I was a little kid. I’ve always felt weird appearing as some rubber-necking, gawker, come by to see what all the hullabaloo is about. I always fantasized about blending in when I traveled outside my element. I’ve never believed that being “in the world but not of it” meant wearing a Hawaiian shirt and Bermuda shorts with a fishing hat and a camera slung around your neck.
A tourist checks the listings to see what other people seem to be interested in, pays a fare and sits back to drive by or fly over and be told about what he’s seeing outside his window. A vicarious naked-eye observation of something that is going on outside himself. This is not what I want to be. Jack and I didn’t go to the canyon to gaze from afar and be told interesting facts about the sediment layers. We came so that at some point in our footsteps, we’d put our weight down in the precarious, eroding, sandy desert soil and step beneath the rim and feel the canyon around us. Turn our faces to the wind and feel the bitter bite of winter from the outside of the windshield. Not only to gaze from a panoramic vantage, but to experience the height before us, and the depth behind us simultaneously. To be immersed at once in the past and the future.

Yes I called it a pilgrimage, and I guess both Jack and I were pilgrims but from quite different perspectives. I was determined not to let Jack know where we were going until we arrived, because although we would arrive, it was not the point of the journey. I know I’m weird, but that was one of my main objectives – to create a metaphor in a rite of passage in which the getting there was just as much a part of the experience as the being there. Perhaps the getting there is just as much a part of the being there as the arrival is. Eternity is infinite forward and back. Eternity doesn’t have a beginning and thus doesn’t start when we get there. It already is and we’re in it.
I planned for Jack to fall asleep during the car ride from Phoenix. I planned for him to miss the signs that would give away our destination. He, immediately after departure, understood that we weren’t headed someplace for a rite of passage, but the rite of passage had begun. After the fact, when I talked with him about our traveling, we observed that even though he slept, we were still on our way, still moving. I hadn’t slept, but kept driving so that when he woke, we were closer. He was carried while sleeping. We talked about the fact that though I knew where we were headed and he didn’t, we were both pilgrims, and though I knew where we were going, neither of us had been there before. Though I had never been there, I knew the way and was taking him.

Once inside the canyon, we weren’t even pilgrims anymore. When we stepped over the rim, we had no destination, only an invitation for experience. We became travelers on a walk to meet whatever came our way. Pilgrimage is great, but the journey doesn’t always go as we plan. Nor is it designed to.
The Apostle Paul understood this. As a pilgrim, he forgot what was behind and pressed on toward the mark, but as a traveler, he understood that he wasn’t guiding himself toward a goal, but being called, drawn to it from the future. As a pilgrim, he realized that to die was gain, it would bring him to the pilgrim’s destination. But as a traveler, he realized that to live is Christ, that until he was brought to his destination, he was led on journey that was just as important. Philip surely understood this as he was told where to go and he went there, saw what was to be done and did it, after which he was carried elsewhere by the Spirit. Philip wasn’t pressed to his own plans, but traveling and being led, learning and trusting and all the time growing closer to what and where he was supposed to be.

Sometimes I feel that the differences between misunderstood word meanings, even slight nuances are detrimental to our being. Tourist, pilgrim and traveler. Other words that speak to the now and then are also confused. Currently and presently, for example. Currently describes what is, and presently, what soon will be. Likewise, Jesus’ language confuses us. The kingdom of God is at hand. So many people hear that as if it is just around the corner. Any day now. But to me, at hand means within grasp. Reach out and grab it. It is here. “An hour is coming and now is, when true worshipers will worship in Spirit and Truth. We won’t go to the mountain, or down to Jerusalem, because it isn’t about a place, it doesn’t come about by careful observation, you can’t say here it is, or there it is, because the kingdom of God is within and among us.
What? That can’t be, because I’ve not yet gotten to where I’m going? Perhaps we’re not only journeying to the kingdom, but journeying within the kingdom. Why is it so difficult to recognize. “Do you mean I’ve been living in it all this time and didn’t even know it?” Do we look around and say if this is it, it is certainly not all that? But once we realize what it is, it begins to look and feel completely different. We stop wishing our lives away. We stop existing in a grass is always greener mentality. We begin to realize that to live is Christ, we claim citizenship, recognize those who don’t realize what they are in the midst of, those who are resident aliens, and set about offering them the same citizenship by the same means it was given to us.
All those who wander are not lost. As James Taylor confesses, it’s enough to be on your way, it’s enough to be moving on, it’s enough just to cover ground. Press on.

rising from phoenix

Bloged in family, life, parenting, traveling by rod Monday February 6, 2006

We were up at 5 to head to the airport. We both had trouble getting up without the canyon calling us. A quick shower and we’re off before they started the “continental breakfast” at the hotel. Ah, another long day en route. About 10 minutes into the trip to the airport, rush hour began at 6:15. “Where do these people work?” It was stop and go for 30 minutes until we got south of I-10 and headed around the bottom of Phoenix.
Jack and I were separated by 8 rows on the plane. We stopped in Denver, but still couldn’t get seated together. Beside me is a lady who seems also to be separated from a traveling companion, and maybe would have braved the bulkhead to trade with Jack, but I decided not to ask when I realized that it was another step of independence for him. Every time I checked on him he seemed so grown up and fine.
We flew to Denver, then to Orlando, then to Charlotte where the rest of the Fam picked us up and whisked us off in the rain to Razzoo’s to cap the whole weekend off with Rat Toes.
It was a long ride home from Charlotte in the driving rain, but here we are, safe and sound. Changed.

west rim

Bloged in family, life, parenting, traveling by rod Sunday February 5, 2006

Much colder this morning than yesterday, although yesterday froze our toes. This morning the wind was so strong that it was very difficult to leave my hands exposed long enough to take pictures. Yesterday, before Jack new what was in store, it was very difficult to rouse him at 6:30 in the morning. Today he was practically shouting in my ear, “Dad, get up, it’s starting to get light.” He didn’t want to miss the light and shadow show, nor did I. We put on all the clothes we had, complete with hoodies engaged, and gloves, and watched the sun cast it’s magic while fighting off the bitter wind.
Once the sun had come up, we found coffee and hot chocolate, and attempted to warm up our core. Though piping hot, by the time it had passed through the icy esophagus, it didn’t do much to warm the belly. So we froze out, went back to the room and packed up, cleaned, checked out of our room, and loaded the car.
We decided to head west along the rim this time, and visit popular vantage points that we hadn’t seen yet. We went along Hermit Road to Hermit’s rest where we found a fire, and Jack bought gifts for a few close friends. Along the way, we saw some of the most spectacular views so far. Sheer drops of 3000 feet and the Colorado River rapids in the distance. Ravens soared beneath and above us in the biting wind.
By the time we reached Hermit’s Rest, our bellies were beginning to growl. The canyon continues 95 miles west from where we were, ha, so we decided to head back to Bright Angel Restaurant to remedy the situation. Wrangler’s spicy chili in a sourdough bowl for me, turkey sandwich on toast for Jack.
We stopped in the gift shop for one more thing for Mom, before climbing in the car and heading back toward Phoenix. We’d decided we’d like to experience some more of Arizona in the daylight. It was a wise decision, as we traveled straight, flat roads at 8,000 feet and watched the mountains looming large in the distance, capped with snow. It was a beautiful ride and we arrived in Phoenix just after dark, grabbed a hotel and watched what was left of the Pittsburgh victory before becoming heavy-eyed. I made first contact with Allison since I’d left Flagstaff Friday night. It felt good to read her text and finally hear her voice. I wonder if a son realizes he has only half a dad when his mom’s not along.

the rite path

Bloged in family, life, metaphor, traveling by rod Saturday February 4, 2006

Physical sustenance was found in the Bright Angel Restaurant. A big burger for Jack, a southwestern version of the Philly Cheese Steak for me.
After lunch, we descended below the rim for about two hours along the Bright Angel Trail. The experience below the rim was entirely different. It was one thing to be looking at the canyon, quite another to be in it. One can look at something from afar, or one can put himself in the middle of it. He can admire from outside, or he can be engulfed by it.

The enormity of the canyon doesn’t allow the mind to process it. As a result, all size and dimension is confused. Points miles away look close. The brain shrinks it to fit its own ability to comprehend. Once below the rim, one experiences the canyon differently. One moves further inside, and looks back and up at the great distance from which he’s come, at the towering pinnacles and sheer cliffs above him, but looks ahead and down at the distance that doesn’t seem to have diminished in the slightest upon his descent.
Yes, for me there was a starting point, and I am steadily distancing myself from it, but there doesn’t seem to be an ending point, and so I am getting no closer to it. Always becoming. He begins to realize that his tiny perception of something so large is skewed. He realizes from his experience of the trail past, that he can’t begin to fathom the depths that he doesn’t understand.
There could be no greater metaphor for the journey toward manhood. One doesn’t simply step upon Plateau Point and find himself a man. This is no video game that can be beaten and then simply played over and over again to try to gain more points each time. One doesn’t just go through the motions to replay favorite scenes, or coast through puzzles for which he already knows the answers. The trail is always the same length ahead, the puzzles constantly change. The forks and sidings ever more difficult to discern. This is not a game that is to be won, but persevered.
We met a clan of Amish folks from Ontario a few hundred yards from the rim. Here were several old men and several young men, all with bushy beards and smoking pipes, and hauling young bonneted children around. It struck me that these 70 year old men, and these 25 year-old old men, had all passed through a rite when they were deemed what they would be. Some of them looked like game pieces that had been moved forward on the board. Jack and I discussed this for a while. We both realized that we were both on the same trail, and though I was much further from where I started than he is, I am no closer to the end of the trail than he is. No, this rite of passage doesn’t make him a man, any more than I can claim to be. At best, it is acknowledgement of the trail. Commitment to travel and persevere and watch closely for the markings that show the way and not to be afraid to double back and find the path when we wander off.
A few times as we lowered ourselves into the canyon, Jack found paths that set him a hundred yards ahead of me down the path I was taking. Sometimes a seemingly more direct route would prove unpassable, but sometimes, a few steeper steps would cut out a long switch-back.
Here we go, each like his father before him. One step in front of the other.

We finished the day, aching and sore, with a two person service of commitment, prayer and communion.

21 queries. 0.246 seconds.
Powered by Wordpress
theme by evil.bert