Friday, May 07, 2010

Getting Lost Along the Way

Awhile back I spent a delightful afternoon at the annual Gathering of Friends General Conference in Johnstown, PA. I'd been asked to do a reading from Sacred Compass, which went well. The audience seemed engaged, they asked some questions, and a good discussion ensued.

Then, after chit cat and signing some books, it was off to Indiana. Nancy read the Mapquest directions and I followed her well read instructions. In spite of that, I soon stopped seeing signs that said Route 219 very quickly.

After a mile or so, I pulled over and pulled out our road atlas and looked at the Johnstown mini-map and looked. It appeared that so long as I continued south on the road we were on, we'd run into Route 219.So south we continued -- right into the heart of downtown Johnstown and "Thunder in the Valley," a huge annual motorcycle event.

Everywhere I looked was a motorcycle but nowhere I looked was a street where it was supposed to be.

Especially no Route 219 heading toward the interstate.Finally, Nancy spotted a sign that said "To 219" and up the ramp we went.

The opposite direction from where we'd be going.

It didn't make any sense -- why would we go north to find the road going south? And why were none of the roads where they were supposed to be?Ten miles later we came an exit for Route 219 -- 1/2 a block from where I originally turned on to the road that led to 219. How can that be, I wondered?

As I merged into the swiftly moving 219 traffic, I glanced up at the mirror and noticed the compass embedded in it. It told me I was going south -- and had been since we got on the road that said "To 219."

Which also told me that when I thought I was going south earlier, I had actually been heading north -- and had been moving away from my destination the entire time.

That's why MapQuest and the road atlas were worthless -- I was reading them "upside down."

All I needed to do to get going right was to look up at the compass. I would have seen clearly that I was going north, not south, and turned around.This all reminded me that it is precisely when I am certain that I'm going the right direction that I need most to check my compass. And in this case, I'm not talking about the one in the car. I'm thinking here about my sacred compass; the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. I may have checked the maps, the weather, the road conditions, and my own sense of direction -- but that may not be enough.

The car's compass was there. I just needed to consult it. The same is true of my soul's compass. Even -- or maybe especially -- when I've just finished a reading telling other people to consult their's.

- Brent

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