advent journal: crumbs to follow


    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:

    Wild Geese

    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.



    1. Thanks for these “crumbs.” The image of the Christmas tree made of well-traveled suitcases is especially suggestive to me. I think of all the traveling I’ve done to get near Christmas trees (and family members, places, religious events). It sort of puts this particular season of Advent in the greater context of all the Advents I’ve waited through. I wonder if they are cumulative.

    2. That’s a fine poem. I don’t think I’ve thanked you for introducing me to Mary Oliver’s poems, a while back.

      Did you know that in the Iona community, the wild goose is a symbol of the Holy Spirit?

    3. Zorra

      I didn’t know that. Makes sense to me. I have an old book of sermons by Browne Barr called “Wild Geese.”

      By the way, thanks to a comment on my music post I was directed to the Bruce Cockburn Christmas record you mentione on your blog. I love it.


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