Journeying through Advent has a bit of a Hansel and Gretel flair for me because I feel like I spend my day looking for a crumb or two to let me know where I am on the journey and to remind me where I’m going – which reminds me of a story.
A number of years ago, Ginger and I went to Las Vegas just because we had never been. We stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel (since we got engaged in the Hard Rock Café in Dallas) for a couple of nights and then we had had our fill. On the morning we were leaving, I was taking some stuff down to the rental car and followed two men and a woman out of the hotel. For me, it was morning; for them, it was still the night before.
The woman said, “There’s two things you gotta know in life: where you’re at and where you’re goin’.”
“Well, hell,” said the man to her right. “I always knowed where I was at, but I ain’t never knowed where I was going.”
I got to thinking about traveling tonight because of this photograph posted by Mark Heybo. He’s been dropping one great visual crumb after another ever since Advent began. This one knocks me out. The suitcases have stories to tell as evidenced by their missing latches, broken handles, and scuffed up exteriors. They seem to be leading the luggage parade, based on the others lined up behind them.
And then there are two sprigs of holly stuck in the handles as decoration, as if the ascending stack of cases is a luggage artist’s rendition of a Christmas tree. Even in the scuffed up places, there’s reason to celebrate and wonder.
For some reason, that takes me to one of my favorite Mary Oliver poems:
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
Those are crumbs worth following.