I am reading the book ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ by Rachel Joyce. It’s a good book and worth a read. It has got me thinking about journeys, particularly those that happen by accident! You can think of life as a journey or maybe even as a bunch of mini journeys that come together to make your story. Some look back at their ancestry and see how other people’s journeys have affected theirs or whether they have taken similar roads to them. Being a total nerd, I have loved tracing my family history. I thought I might discover someone that would explain the ‘crazyness’ that is me… the missing link! However, from what I found out about my ancestors, I am not certain of our genetic similarities. I have only been in a sailing boat once and am not great with authority, I have never shoe’d a horse or run a shop. I certainly have not had 12 kids (seriously?!?). I am not particularly good with a saw… and, I have never dressed my sons like little girls! What were they thinking?
Disappointingly there were no highway robbers, reckless adventurers or inventors of cling film. Instead my search revealed families that stayed put in little villages for generations. On my mum’s side, a family stayed in a tiny village in Devon for seven generations! As someone who has lived in eight different places in 35 years, this sounded awesome. We have so many choices today, more than my ancestors would have been offered. This can leave us feeling bewildered and lost, like Harold Fry in the book. He closed doors, limited his options and, as a result, his life/journey had been a narrow one. Where he avoided pain, he also lost out on the joy that taking risks can give. As any parent will tell you, the moment you hold your newborn baby in your arms, you are overwhelmed with joy, but also a new fear. The fear of loss. In that moment you know that you are caught in the balance between those two very real journeys.
Once, on holiday in America, we were invited to visit some new friends for dinner. We were very excited and set off in our hire car with time to spare. What we had not anticipated was that the journey which had been described as ‘easy’, was not! My husband and I are one of those unfortunate couples that are ‘navigationally challenged’ – neither of us have the faintest sense of direction. In fact for me, it is a family joke that when my parents were driving me to University for the first time, I said, ” So where is Worcester anyway?”. Even in America, Sat Nav was not widely used then, so we just had to follow written directions and the Freeway. You will never know how much you love roundabouts until you are lost in America! For the next hour, we would repeatedly turn off the freeway only to find ourselves lost in some town or other, then spend 30 minutes trying to find the freeway entrance again. We did see some interesting parts of San Diego! We would have asked for help, only we had trouble making ourselves understood asking for water in cafe’s – so we didn’t fancy our chances! Needless to say, we arrived very late. Fortunately, being Californian, our lovely hosts were very laid back about the whole thing… in fact we wondered if they had been expecting us at all? A few years later we were back in San Diego and well… let’s just say Sat Nav is a wonderful thing!
Perhaps when we are faced with all these choices in life, rather than panicking or worrying endlessly we could think of God as our Sat Nav. Neil and I often pray through our choices. We ask God to open up the doors of good opportunities and close doors to bad ones. Throughout all the moves and mini journeys I have taken, I can honestly say that I have felt guided by God, that he has walked with me and I with him. They have not always been easy routes, but God has helped me get the best out of every adventure – the joy and the pain, but never alone.