Thursday, May 18, 2006

"Not all Who Wander are Lost"

Not all who wander are lost.
                    - J. R. R. Tolkien

Graduating from high school in 1972 this was as far from my motto as any truism could be.  I had dreamed, planned and saved for my own version of the fast-track out of a family of 10 and into one of the top 10 universities in the nation.  An academic resume I was proud of and thought would secure my successful admittance by the time I was 18 made my lofty goals appear attainable. 

My trip was well-planned, the ticket purchased, and the destination clearly in sight. 

Or so I thought....later that year my dad would pass on suddenly leaving a wife and 8 children without insurance, pension or homeownership.  I was the oldest and suddenly my well-planned itinerary was sent fluttering into the nearby Atlantic and I was a "wanderer" took me a long time to realize, however, that I was not lost.

I have begun to ask myself....what would it take for the wanderer to
be lost?  Something is not lost on it's own, something is lost to someone.  If I had been lost I would not have been lost to myself, but to God.

That just isn't possible if my concept of God is all-knowing, always present, and omnipotent as the Bible and Mary Baker Eddy aver. 

There is a time in Jesus' career when one of the rulers of the Pharisees comes to him and states that he must be a teacher come from God because of the miracles he is doing.  The Pharisee is trying to make's as if he is saying, "Okay, because you are doing all these amazing things you must have this "bloodline".  Jesus doesn't just take it as a compliment and a justification for his works, he says something quite strange.  He replies to this acknowledgment of his spiritual lineage with the statement "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."   HUH???

That was Nicodemus' response too, "how can a man be born again when he is old?  Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born again?  For many years I was like our friend Nicodemus....just not as courageous in my questioning.  I wanted to say each time I read these passages, "Hey, I don't get this at all!'  But I'd read them aloud in church or in private when they appeared as part of a scriptural selection without hesitation. 

Jesus goes on to reply, "Except a man be born of the water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Marvel not that I say unto thee, Ye must be born again."

This is usually where the selection would end and I would be just as baffled as poor old Nicodemus was when the Master said it to him over 2,000 years ago.  That was until one summer when these same citations appeared in a weekly lesson of study designed to serve as a suggested guide for that week's spiritual journey. 

As I read the citations once again I started to become a tad frustrated.  "What in the world was he trying to say?'  "Why did the guy have to be so cryptic?"  I came to the end of the selection and there, what seemed like, out of the blue, was this statement, "The wind bloweth where it listed, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is everyone that is born of the Spirit."

Wow, I thought...what strange juxtapositioning of statements from the Scriptures....born again AND the wind blowing where it listeth...then I looked up to where the citation sources are listed and dang if this wasn't actually an uninterrupted sequence of statements on the Master's part. 

As I sat there pondering what relationship those two statements had to one another...both statements that had left me bewildered and baffled in the almost weightless piece of seed fluff from a burst pod blew across the porch of my cabin in the Rocky Mountains where I was serving as a spiritual healer for the summer at camp for teens.

I didn't move.

Now, I am a language deconstructionist at heart....I love taking words apart and finding their roots and discovering obscure uses and tools are usually a stack of dictionaries...but this day all it took was that one seed blowing where the wind was sending it.  Being BORNE of the spirit (Pneuma, wind)....

Ahah (and this message could have been only for me)....but I had my answer, my healing truth about this passage for my own life. Here is what God said to me on the porch of my cabin that day: 

We are not born into families with their DNA, birth orders, financial profile or ethnic proclivities...we are not born blindly (see also story of Jesus healing the man who was born blind John 9) from disaster to opportunity, from financial misstep to educational legacy, from parental mistakes and sins to "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" philosophies and academic hierarchy...we are being borne (carried, sent) by the Spirit (inspiration, revelation) and, therefore, although our path may seem tangential and circuitous...compared to someone else' is always governed by an omnipotent and all-knowing good God who loves us and knows exactly where we need to be at each moment in our each order to fulfill His purpose for us.

So...can those who seem to be wandering EVER be lost.  Not to an all-knowing, all-powerful, good Father-Mother God who loves us. 

I eventually ended up studying at two of those universities I had my heart set on (among others I would end up attending over the course of my academic sojourning)...maybe not in the way I had planned with an itinerary in hand, ticket purchased, and a quick flight on the Concorde to Paris...but more like I got in the car to drive to the airport I ran into a hippie on the side of the road who needed a ride to Nova Scotia to care for his mother, so I drove him there, then since I need to head South I drove along the coast and got waylaid in a charming village and ended up living with a woman who ran an orphanage and decided to take the children traveling throughout the country visiting churches and synagogues singing for their supper  who invited me to join them when they decided to hop a schooner for Africa but got waylaid in Southern France and ended up joining a troupe of gypsies working the vineyards and juggling for pennies in Provence....eventually we made it to Paris as street performers....but hey, we got there....

Wouldn't that have been fun!  So was my journey....I am here where the Wind has blown me...and I know now that I was never lost....just wandering...and I am so grateful.   He always knew where I was...He had sent me there...provided me with perfect traveling companions... carried on His breath of purpose....



  1. All that is gold does not glitter,
    not all those who wander are lost;
    the old that is strong does not wither,
    deep roots are not reached by the frost.
    From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
    a light from the shadows shall spring;
    renenwed shall be blade that was broken,
    the crownless again shall be king.

    I just love that whole poem. and today I'm feeling it for myself, our work is not yet done, we will rise like the phoenix again to serve the cause. the cross we are bearing in quiet today will again earn us the crown.

  2. Anonymous2:19 PM

    I love this blog... I have read it before, but today it was so helpful. It helps to know that despite the struggles and challenges along our way we are never really lost. God is always with us governing our journey. I think the key is to not ever compare our journey to another's and not to worry about what others might think. Because as you said, "it is always governed by an omnipotent and all-knowing good God who loves us and knows exactly where we need to be at each moment in our journey..." I often get caught up in wondering what are other people thinking about me and my "journey", or what would they think if they knew.... It is helpful to know that all that really matters is that God is in control.
    Thank you Kate.