Monday, October 7, 2013

Journey - Destination Unknown

I'm with my math class.  A word problem is on the board.  Some of my students are already circling and underlining words, writing down their thinking in the margins, rewording the problem.  But I already see a couple of hands up.  Insistent hands attached to bodies that barely stay in their seats.  Excited hands.  And I walk around to see the work - I want to see how my students are thinking - I want to see their math brains translated onto their papers.  But the hand-papers are blank.  Empty.  Nada.  Nothing.

And I turn away from them saying "I know some of you already know the answer.  Thank you for wanting to share.   Now I need you to show me how you got it."

"I just know it."  They sometimes tell me.

"It's too easy."  They sometimes say.

"I don't know how I got it, is it right?"  Trying to please, faces all screwed up with earnest need.  Need to be right, to check off the box, to go to the next problem, a trail of answers in their wake.  But not a real trail.  Like Hansel and Gretel, the breadcrumb answers disappear and the students become lost in the Forest of How, because the destination has become their goal, not the journey.

But the learning happens in the journey.

I went on a walk with my daughter last week.  Through a park with multiple trails in the woods.  Trails I didn't know.  With signposts along the way.  Destination unknown.  As we walked, I thought about this thing, this trail, this journey we call life.  I thought about how journeys differ, based on circumstances.  On beliefs.  On events.  I thought about justification and sanctification; I thought about how we are changed through Christ.

And the whole walk became a metaphor.

The journey begins with faith.
Faith:  the bridge between belief and hope.  Some will never cross the bridge.  Some will never experience the unknown, the un-imagined, the un-safe.  But neither will they experience the cool of the trees, or the diversity of the trail, because they will stay always in the sunlight, always on pavement - not taking chances.

Some will.  

Reflections along the trail... 

Memories of other times, 
other journeys, 
other destinations.
and forgiveness, 
and grace.  

Humility for grace - 
a gift undeserved. 

Beauty in the small things -
the unnoticed along the side of the trail.

Surprising color,
delicate detail.

Things we miss
when our destination is the goal,
when speed is of the essence,
when we focus only on the finish line.

Beauty in the light,

in the turning, 
in the imperfect, 
the unadorned, 
the simple.
Beauty in the broken, 
the fallen,
the great become small,
the humble -

stripped down to final truth -
true wood -
Journey on the trail - 
through places of sunlight 
and places of shadow.  

Not always a wide road, 
but a narrow one 
made by the footprints 
of those who came before.
Expect changes.

A single breath of wind to throw seeds.
A single breath of God to throw seeds for new life.
For hope.
For love.

Beauty in change.


through faith, 
through beauty, 
through change.  

Around the bend - 
not always visible, 
and there will be hills.

And there will be brokenness along the way,

soul-stretching brokenness 
in all the fibers - 
of our being. 

Brokenness reaching for grace.

Grace like light, 
breaks through the canopy,
illuminating the shadows,
the dark places,
like an artist
casting highlights on a canvas.

Like God,
opening and closing
doors and windows.

As we walked, my daughter and me, the trail whispered ...


This tree -
a metaphor of redemption.
White trunk,
stark and bare
in the midst of the healthy,
the upright...

Like a life laid bare, 
no covering, no protection, bark peeled
open, crying

Held in arms of grace.

He will not leave
He holds us.
He catches us
before we

We journeyed on, my daughter and me.  And the whispers didn't stop.


I will wrap you in my peace. 
In my love. 
My joy will twine through you. 
I will be in you as you are in me.

the path winds narrow,
light-dappled limbs overhead,
leaves lay like old sin.

God in heaven, Creator of all things, thank you for this place, this changing place that is not our destination, wherever it is.  Help us to see what you want us to see, to hear what you want us to hear, to know what you want us to know.  Thank you for joy in the journey.

You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Psalm 16:11

Linking With:
Michelle at Hear It On Sunday
Barbie at The Weekend Brew
Janis at Sunday Stillness


  1. Lovely reflections, Janet....thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you - you know, one of these days we're going to actually have to meet in person... After all, we ARE family :-)

  2. Oh wow - this is beautiful. I journey with you - saw through your eyes. Lovely. I am following you from Weekend Brew.
    I would love you to link to Sunday Stillness.

    1. Thanks for the invite - I went ahead and linked. My daughter and I had a wonderful day on the trail - it was definitely a God day. I am glad to share. Have a wonderful week.

  3. Dear Janet
    Your words give such new meaning to Abrahams listening to God and starting his journey with God. He didn't know where he was going, but he was trusting the One who knows everything. He is the one who brings beauty out of ashes, and draws strength out of ou weakness. Like Paul said that only boasting in his weakness meant anything for then the power of God could rest on him.
    Blessings XX

    1. Hi Mia, I wonder if Abraham's world was as destination/answer-oriented as ours. Probably. The more Bible I read, the more I'm convinced that times and 'the human condition' haven't really changed so very much. Except for Jesus. And that's a pretty big except. What you say is so true - we need to trust in God. Love, Janet


I know we probably haven't met in person, but I believe that the sharing of our ideas and thoughts, sometimes our hearts and souls, makes us more than strangers. I would like to say friends. Thank you for taking the time to contribute to my little space - I appreciate you.