Back on the Road

The Festival Season is over, although someĀ  traditions celebrate the season of Epiphany still. How appropriate to find that after the waiting is darkness, the celebrating of Light and community, the cheering for the turn of a calendar year, we find we are back on the road again with our usual routines, gifts and annoyances, diversions and challenges, even if we have been wise and called to go home by another way. The new calendar year has begun, and we resume our quotidian journeys.

Our bags are lighter now since we were able to deliver ourselves of what passes for gold, frankincense and myrrh in our locations, gifts which we valued, chose with love, delivered from the heart. What a joy to be able to seek, to find, to worship and love! But there is a roominess in our packs that creates space. It’s not that we are facing the way home empty-handed. We carry with us the gold-dusted visions of those we love and try to love with their moments of gladness and peace. We can remember the redolence of kind and gentle conversations, of detente restored, if only for a brief shining moment. The Season filled us with hope, even if it was only glimpses and intimations. And we did not escape the myrrh needed for the suffering of the world–the dying ones, the suffering ones, the traumatized ones, the ones for who the reach toward peace was a bridge too far.

So we resume our journey, musing and mindful of what we were given, of what we learned, of what brings us hope. I ask myself: how am I changed from the journey that followed that Star? that heard the Story? that sang the joyful, trusting harmonies of the Holy Season? The road ahead is in many ways familiar. Like David Hockney’s paintings of his home place in England, the road is well-traveled. Yet this is a new year, with new visions and wider vistas, and surely, as there was in the year just past, there will be surprises, things that delight, but also things that ache and threaten to derail on this road. How do I plan to navigate this “oh-so-familiar-oh-so-new” pathway ahead?

I go forward with musings, not with resolutions, with sensibilities saved from the events of the Season, and with these questions to bring to each day in the long and winding road:

  • Is there a gift I need to bring to this place in the road? a blessing, an open heart, or just paying attention?
  • How do the encounters with the celebrations of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany inform and strengthen me for this turn in the path? what have I learned and remembered anew that gives me wisdom and stamina?
  • What is the invitation to me in the presence of the pain I meet in myself, in those I love, in the ones I meet, and those whose destinies are displayed each day in front of me in the media? What am I to do? to say? how will I be present?

I am relieved to be back on the road again, trusting that I will know the next right step, and what to do as I take it.

When you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, you shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isaiah 30: 21)

About Elizabeth Nordquist

Elizabeth Nordquist is a Presbyterian pastor, teacher, and spiritual director who writes on women's issues, spirituality and Scripture, and what is happening in the world--hers, her neighborhood, the Church and the world. Each day she looks for ways in which the Spirit is moving in and around her.


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