I get lost easily. It’s funny to those who know me best, annoying and perplexing to me. Many is the time I’ve lost my way in the Safeway parking lot, often in an ungodly fog of non-Sunday-school language. After calming down from my diatribe on poor parking lot engineering I begin the pathetic process of self-flagellation that includes the obligatory inner harpy: “if you can’t even find your way out of the parking lot, how do you expect to find your way in the big, bad world with, like…roads ‘n stuff!?”
A case in point: last summer I was hurriedly making plans after a long and complicated week to drive to Cannon Beach, Oregon for a choral directors workshop. As I am wont to do, I left well before I really needed to since that’s what uptight, anal guys like me do. I was particularly proud of my packing prowess having narrowed down my weekly possessions to a single midsize suitcase…well, and my guitar of course…oh, and a bunch of books in a separate bag (not counting snacks, naturally). Being more concerned about early arrival than any other point of preparation I happily hit the road two hours ahead of schedule with the air condition blasting and the tunes blasting even more.
I crested the final hill from Yakima to Ellensberg from which the windmill and horse ranch dotted valley below spoke loudly of itself in multi-colored hue. I sailed past Ellensberg and was impressed with the reasonably well-flowing traffic on the ever-busy I-90 corridor to Seattle. Then, a few miles past the small mountain cowboy town of Cle Elum I hit the intestinal traffic jam with no hope of quick relief to the constipated bumper-to-bumper traffic.
No problem, I thought, I had left plenty early and was listening to a delightful conversation between Krista Tippet and poet/philosopher, John O’Donohue (listen here). I was enraptured and unhurried. Upon finishing the CD I figured a few cell phone calls might help pass the time. One of those was to my wife Rae, (who ironically, makes maps, more on that in my next post) and confidently boasted my ample progress despite poor traffic just past Cle Elum.
A lengthy pause.
“What the hell are you doing in Cle Elum?” she barked, apparently not as chuffed as I on my progress.
Another lengthy pause…
Then it dawned on me. I was in fact on the wrong road altogether!
“Yeah, what the hell am I doing in Cle Elum?”
I am now the proud owner of a cool GPS unit that speaks to me in the smooth vocal tones of Sean Connery (snooty bugger) and, thanks to my wife and boys, seldom get lost anymore (please don’t tell them that I generally don’t know how to use it very well).
Sometimes we need road signs, GPS units, spouses, kids and friends to share the burden of our lostness. And the more I think of my proclivity toward directional retardation the more I am reminded of the spiritual parallels here. It’s no surprise that Jesus loved the lost and found metaphor and used it liberally. To be lost is one thing. To be lost and blissfully unaware of it is quite another. It is more sinister, not in the traditional heaven-hell, saved-damned dichotomies; but in the getting-warmer-getting-colder proximity meter as we seek union with God.
I hate the feeling of being lost or losing my sense of direction. But, to hear Connery’s comforting voice say those words I love to hear, “you have reached your destination, shaken, not stirred”, is the highway equivalent of these still better words…
“This one was lost and, now, is found.”