Aug 17 2012

The Journey Out and Back

Published by at 9:01 pm under Minister's Musings

At 6:45 a.m., my friend Terry and I tumble out into the already-bright sun of the southern California mountains, her two dogs prancing around us. On this first walk of the day, the air is still cool, the scents fresh, and there are a thousand new markings from forest creatures to explore—that’s Dashiell the beagle’s perspective, anyway. Rex, the young golden retriever, dances and bounds, his amber eyes fixed on our hands and the fistful of sticks we will throw.

Each dog has a different mission, a different instinct for what gives life meaning and joy. On the way outward, Dashiell wants a long lead and the freedom to stick his nose down every hole. Rex wants our shared enthusiasm for being OUTDOORS and ALIVE with STICKS to CATCH! OMG! Occasionally, Dashiell stops to s-t-r-e-t-c-h his neck hard against the leash so he can gaze through strands of barbed wire at some forbidden meadow. Occasionally, Rex flops down on the roadside brambles to sort the half-dozen sticks he has managed to pack between his smiling lips. The journey out is all about discovery and longing, worry and joy, alertness and connection to everything around them.

          On the way back, the dogs walk side by side; the leashes in our hands are slack. Dashiell casts only mild glances at what absorbed him earlier. Rex remembers a stick he’d dropped earlier, but he carries it for just a while, no longer obsessed with saving it. Their noses point toward home. The two dogs and two humans walk peacefully, companionably, senses filled. The journey back is all about resting and reflecting on what we have seen and learned.

          Doesn’t this pattern—the journey out and back—apply to our lives on every scale? From our daily passage from morning to evening, to times of actual travel or transition, to the journey of a whole lifetime: each journey has its own mission and character.

At Justice General Assembly in Phoenix this June, the journey out toward the vigil at Tent City was all about our spiritual and physical preparation—singing and praying on the bus, reminding each other of the rules, sharing our nerves about what we might face when we got there. The journey back was all about quietly reviewing what we had heard and seen, the power of peaceful, faithful people witnessing for justice in the face of inhuman oppression. We shared a weary but deep sense of the smallness and the greatness of simply showing up, together.

What journeys out and back have you taken this summer? And where are you now on the journey of your life? Won’t you share your stories with us? Our journeys are richer in meaning and joy when we show up for them, together.

I can’t wait to see you in August!


With great affection,


Rev. Nancy

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