Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Home by Another Way

When I think of New Year's songs I often turn to either the familiar "Auld Lang Syne"...whether sung by James Taylor on his new CD or on any one of the hundreds of recorded versions available in every musical genre from Willie Nelson to Sting....or I return the magical words  "met my old lover in a grocery store..." version of "Another Auld Lang Syne" by Dan Fogelberg...either work on December 31st.  But one year I was surprised to find myself humming what has since become my favorite New Year's song. It isn't on any Christmas album...even though it is all about the birth of the infant Saviour in Bethlehem.  Nor is "Home By Another Way" considered a "holiday classic" in any circles...even with JT cultists like me... but it is funny, moving, profound and gave me the spiritual "kick in the pants" that I needed at a critical time.

Home By Another Way (Mayer/Taylor)

Those magic men the Magi,
some people call them wise or Oriental, even kings.
Well anyway, those guys, they visited with Jesus,
they sure enjoyed their stay.
Then warned in a dream of King Herod's scheme,
they went home by another way.
Yes, they went home by another way, home by another way.
Maybe me and you can be wise guys too
and go home by another way.
We can make it another way,
safe home as they used to say.
Keep a weather eye to the chart on high
and go home another way.

Steer clear of royal welcomes, avoid a big to-do.
A king who would slaughter the innocents will not cut a deal for you.
He really, really wants those presents,
he'll comb your camel's fur
until his boys announce they've found trace amounts
of your frankincense, gold and myrrh.
Time to go home by another way, home by another way.
You have to figure the Gods, saying play the odds,
and go home by another way.
We can make it another way, safe home as they used to say.
Keep a weather eye to the chart on high and go home another way.

Home is where they want you now,
you can more or less assume that you'll be welcome in the end.
Mustn't let King Herod haunt you so
or fantasize his features when you're looking at a friend.
Well it pleasures me to be here and to sing this song tonight,
they tell me that life is a miracle
and I figured that they're right.
But Herod's always out there, he's got our cards on file.
It's a lead pipe cinch, if we give an inch,
old Herod likes to take a mile.
It's best to go home by another way, home by another way.
We got this far to a lucky star,
but tomorrow is another day.
We can make it another way,
safe home as they used to say.
Keep a weather eye to the chart on high
and go home another way.

So as you can see it isn't for the metaphysical purist when it comes to languaging...but it really resonates with me whenever I am listening for divine guidance and direction. 

I have realized that one of the ways that "Herod" would undermine the divine in my experience is by convincing me that there is only one way "home."  Mary Baker Eddy defines "home" in a number of ways...two of my favorite are "the dearest spot on earth" and "the center...though not the boundary...of the affections" and there have been times in my life when the route to "home" was very singular for me.  It was what I knew and what I saw as the only path and by golly I was going to stick to that slice of paving no matter what.   It was "do or die" and I was a master of do-ing.  If someone could stick to the ship it was me. I would make a plan work, a strategy succeed, a design fit...because the plan, strategy, or design was God-inspired and divinely revealed "from the beginning" and therefore it was my role to stay on course. 

But one year as I was sitting at my kitchen counter with the Bible and Science and Health...my trusty, reliable, and constant navigational tools...spread open around me, I found myself thinking about my friend Moses. 

Here was a guy who was obedient every step of the way.  God says, "lift up your rod".... he's all over it, "take off your shoes"....done,  "lead a nation out of Egypt".....I'm on my way.  So Moses takes off with the Hebrew nation, leading them out of slavery, cruelty and bondage through the desert out of Egypt in the wake of a locust invasion, the river turning to blood and frogs, frogs, frogs and things are going pretty well. That is until Pharaoh (a guy who for all emotional intents and purposes has a direct link to Herod) wakes up to what he has allowed....all the cheap labor has left the city in the midst of a construction boom...pyramids and sphinxes aren't built by kings and princes you know...and he gathers his soldiers and they decide to chase the Hebrews down and bring them back to finish a couple of those Seven Wonders of the World.

The Hebrews are marching along through the desert singing "Kumbaya" and "...my knapsack on my back"  (you know the one..."valderee valderah, valderee, valderah, hah, hah...") sharing gorp and writing in their wilderness journals, when someone puts his ear to the dusty ground and hears the rumbling of horses and chariots bearing down on them. 

Well, they are pretty upset...this whole leaving bondage thing sounded pretty good when Moses proposed it...no more whippings from soldiers, gorp instead of pots of yucky mush that boiled away over a fire all day, sleeping under the stars....but the gorp was running low and it was cold under the stars and dang all this walking was making their feet sore.  And besides that Moses was a lousy navigator...God or no God he had taken then on a path that led them to a dead end.   The were sitting at the edge of a sea with no boats. 

Soon everyone was sitting on the ground whining about their plight...at least in Egypt we had fleshpots...at least in Egypt we could...and on and on it went. 

My buddy Moses tries to calm them down with "stand ye still and see the salvation of the Lord"...but even that was wearing a little thin...wasn't it this same Lord who had gotten them there in the first place and now they would have to walk all the way back but this time with soldiers prodding and taunting them along and perhaps with whips at their backs.

But even the Lord Himself was not satisfied with Moses' response to their complaint and fear....He asks His good, faithful, and obedient servant Moses "wherefore criest thou unto me, speak to the Children of Israel that they go forward"...well, doggone it...how many times have I, like Moses, wanted to just sit still and search the landscape for paths that are familiar, well worn, or have been bushwhacked by another traveler...or I've had my triptik from what I thought was the spiritual version of the AAA in hand for a long time and man I was going to stick to this itinerary no matter what. 

But Moses had the courage and the good sense to scan the horizon for what that forward movement might look like in new ways and to walk forward with the authority of God's command to move. 

Now Moses had never read Exodus and he had probably never heard of a sea parting...so it wasn't something he could even imagine...digging a hole to the center of the earth and out the other side probably seemed more doable than walking through the middle of a sea..."on dry ground" nonetheless....but God had a plan so new and different and spiritually practical that no one had even considered it.  

When Moses moves forward in the direction that makes the least sense humanly,  he discovers a path so perfect and one which makes absolute, scientific sense to one who trust that God is the only "I AM" impelling his desire to lovingly deliver his brothers and sisters from slavery.  He was someone who understood that when Love is seen as the supreme law governing the universe all the other laws of physics...gravity, molecular adhesion, cohesion and attraction...all subserve this law of Love.  God had already proven this to him when the bush burns but was not consumed...and he would prove it again and again as they made their way through the wilderness and toward a promised sense of home.  Their trust in God's care, in Love's supremacy and power would grow stronger and stronger with each proof. 

Mary Baker Eddy shares many observations about God's relationship to His universe that are critical to my view of this story...and how I am learning to trust His guidance and care...even when the way Love is leading me seems unimaginable, off-course or impassably difficult.   A few that have been my "rod" and "staff" this year are:

"Divine Love is our hope, strength, and shield. 
We have nothing to fear when Love is at the helm of thought,
but everything to enjoy on earth and in heaven."


  "The purpose and motive to live aright can be gained now. 
This point won, you have started as you should.
You have begun at the numeration-table of Christian Science,
and nothing but wrong intention can hinder your advancement. 
Working and praying with true motives,
your Father will open the way. 
"Who did hinder you, that ye should not obey the truth?"


"Love for God and man is the true incentive
in both healing and teaching. 
Love inspires, illumines, designates,
and leads the way. 
Right motives give pinions to thought,
and strength and freedom to speech and action."

I am continuing to learn that to put Love in charge of my life...to let Love and Love alone be my Captain, my Navigator, my GPS, my True North star....may take me Home by Another Way that may seem dark and cold and without many traveling companions, but it also may just part a tumultuous sea to reveal dry ground...take me through a barren wilderness that springs before me into a garden...and past a warm, full, bustling Inn to a simple manger in which I just may find an infant Christliness in the humble straw of my own heart.

Whether you are a leader of a nation, a few kings blindly following the requests of a misguided but cunning and ruthless sovereign, a high school senior looking for the right next chapter after graduation, or a parent on your knees searching for what is right for your family....you too can hear the voice of Love leading you forward...leading you on a path less traveled where you may just march to the beat of a different drummer, dance like nobody's watching, and above all...love like you'll never get hurt...with abandon...on the edge of a raging  sea...beyond the reaches of hatred, opinion and doubt.


1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:40 PM

    I happened upon this blog and loved the reminder to always let Love, God guide us and lead us on our journey. To know that we can only experience blessings when we put all our faith in Him and let Him alone guide us is so helpful. Thank you...