Monday, January 23, 2012

The Practice of Getting Lost

Taken from An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor

“However you choose to do it, the practice of getting lost is both valuable and undervalued, at least by the North American culture most of us know best. In this culture, the point is to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible, even if that means you miss most of the territory, including the packed dirt under your feet.

Sometimes this is because you are doing at least five other things while you are in transit, including talking on the phone, listening to the radio, drinking a mocha latte, checking your text messages, telling your dog to get in the back seat, and checking out how good you look in your sunglasses by admiring yourself in the rearview mirror.

Once you become lost, everything but the dog and the telephone will become suddenly unimportant – the telephone because it may allow you to call someone who loves you enough to come find you, and the dog to keep you company while you wait. If you are not able to set priorities any other way, then getting lost may be the kick in the pants you have been waiting for.

You had better do it quickly, however since the growing popularity of Global Positioning Systems may soon make getting lost impossible to do. I think I understand the appeal. Following the instructions of a disembodied voice coming from your dashboard takes less time than pulling over to ask for directions or look at a map. Plus, it may be comforting to think that a big eye in the sky can see you no matter where you are, even though this will do nothing to prevent you from missing your turn or running into the car ahead of you…

You will think of other ways to get lost, or to accept that you really have gotten lost through no choice of your own. It can happen anywhere, in all kinds of ways. You can get lost on your way home. You can get lost looking for love. You can get lost between jobs. You can get lost looking for God. However it happens, take heart. Others before you have found a way in the wilderness, where there are as many angels as there are wild beasts, and plenty of other lost people too. All it takes is one of them to find you. All it takes is you to find one of them. However it happens, you could do worse than to kneel down and ask a blessing, remembering how many knees have kissed this altar before you.”

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