January 25, 2021

Always the Road

Judean Wilderness

All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth…

– Hebrews 11:13 NRSV

* * *

All my life I’ve thought one day this wandering will be past.
The place I seek will appear, and I will be at home.
Some sweet oasis — fruitful, verdant, restful land —
And I will smile, survey the scene, and settle down.

There we would laugh and feast and play ’til dark
Then lie within each other’s arms and sigh
And sleep as those untroubled or perplexed,
Wake to breathe the dew and steaming coffee mist.

Along the way I’ve sat at pleasant tables,
I have drunk the hospitality of friends;
Laughed until our bellies ached while falling on the floor
The ticking clock meant nothing to our revelry.

But then the road, always the road,
And these images consigned to the rear view mirror.
Digging through the bin I find my sunglasses.
Visor down, I drive toward the light.


  1. I wish.

    For me, the journey is mostly Just Another Lap Around The Mountain. (Deut. 1:6)
    You could mount a screen on the hood of the car and project a slide through the windshield for all the change in the scenery.

    • I’ve been on that road too, Briar. Today I’m thinking that even the road with pleasant stops still leads me away from each one hoping that the next will bring lasting pleasure.

  2. The sure provisions of my God
    Attend me all my days.
    Oh may Thy house be my abode
    And all my work be praise.

    There would I find a settled rest
    While others go and come,
    No more a stranger, nor a guest,
    But like a child, at home.

  3. Highwayman says

    We’re moving through a trackless, barren land
    and great the trouble around us,
    but as the light of heaven leads us on
    we’ll know we are nearer home;

    For a highway shall be there.
    It will be called, “The Way of Holiness”,
    and the LORD will guide his people home along that road;
    and no danger will be there,
    so we will travel on with gladness
    and we’ll sing for joy for ever in the city of God.

    (Based on Isaiah 35)

  4. Robert F says

    St. John of the Cross might suggest that although we might drive toward the light, if we nonetheless find ourselves traveling in the darkness, it may be because the Lord is very near indeed.

    • Robert F says

      Of course, I’m no Saint John of the Cross. Most of the time, I feel as if I’m “on a road to nowhere,” to quote the Talking Heads; or, worse, “busted flat in Baton Rouge, waiting for a train….”

  5. CM, did you write this….? I would like to share it with a credit going to….? Thanks!!

  6. And when the fight is fierce, the warfare long,
    Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
    And hearts are brave again, and arms are strong.
    Alleluia! Alleluia! …

    The golden evening brightens in the west;
    Soon, soon, to faithful warriors cometh rest.
    Sweet is the calm of Paradise the blest.
    Alleluia! Alleluia!


    Pippin: I didn’t think it would end this way.

    Gandalf: End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path… One that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass… And then you see it.

    Pippin: What? Gandalf?… See what?

    Gandalf: White shores… and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.

    Pippin: [smiling] Well, that isn’t so bad.

    Gandalf: [softly] No… No it isn’t.

  7. Christiane says

    sojourner struggles, yes, and this is the theme of many, many poems

    but some poems end with examples of love almost too vibrant to take in,
    and you want to forget those poems, and you can’t
    as in the following poem set in Ireland, at the time of the great famine,
    about a couple setting out from the workhouse together on their journey home:

    ‘QUARANTINE’ by Eavan Boland

    ‘In the worst hour of the worst season
    of the worst year of a whole people
    a man set out from the workhouse with his wife.
    He was walking – they were both walking – north.

    She was sick with famine fever and could not keep up.
    He lifted her and put her on his back.
    He walked like that west and west and north.
    Until at nightfall under freezing stars they arrived.

    In the morning they were both found dead.
    Of cold. Of hunger. Of the toxins of a whole history.
    But her feet were held against his breastbone.
    The last heat of his flesh was his last gift to her.

    Let no love poem ever come to this threshold.
    There is no place here for the inexact
    praise of the easy graces and sensuality of the body.
    There is only time for this merciless inventory:

    Their death together in the winter of 1847.
    Also what they suffered. How they lived.
    And what there is between a man and woman.
    And in which darkness it can best be proved.’


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