Signposts

If you are a pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, you would see little scallop shells on signs along the way. Painted yellow or blue, these markers let the pilgrims know that they are on the right path, that these roads have been walked before, and that there is provision along the way.

When you go hiking on a blazed trail, there are markers, usually on trees, letting you know which trail you are on, and encourages you to keep walking to the next marker.

The Israelites, in their pilgrimage through the wilderness, also had markers and signs to lead the way and let them know that God was with them on the path. A cloud by day, a pillar of fire by night, manna from heaven for making daily bread, quail in the morning, water from a rock…on and on, they received signposts from God, provision for the journey. And still they struggled to find gratitude or rest in what had been provided.

I find myself to be just like an Israelite, impaired by my shortsightedness and in need of seeing the daily signposts that God is with me, and that He has provided what I need. This discipline of drawing ordinary things through Lent is reminding me that these small things are indeed signposts along the ordinary path…small bread crumbs leading me home…tiny lamps to light the way.

There are birds providing a song of joy, chairs inviting me to takeΒ respite from the daily grind, socks to warm my tired feet, mugs, cups and coffee makers for soothing drink, and yes, a lamp for light in the darkness. Such simple things, but all necessary for a pilgrim’s walk through life.

I want to keep drawing, and so to somehow be drawn into gratitude and to rest in the provision of these daily, ordinary gifts. I hope you are finding this too!

Buen Camino friends!

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Day 21-Out of the Nest

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Out of the Nest –Β A Monday Morning Walk

Only a block after leaving my own nest to walk,Β I happened upon an eye-high bird’s nest in a small tree next to the sidewalk. I took a few steps into my neighbor’s side yard to get a closer look into the perfectly shaped, empty nest. Birds and their nests are fascinating to me.

I continued on the path looking for more nests. Up high, down low…but couldn’t find any. I’m sure the look of my unstable gaitΒ may have caused neighbors to wonder about my drinking habits.

Thoughts of all the nests we humans make came marching into my head: our homes, churches, work places, civic and volunteer organizations, our office desks and bedside tables. (Memories of my children’s bedroom floors…yes, nests indeed.)

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Nests are places where we build something lasting…a place of rest and rejuvenation, a place to serve others, to provide comfort or healing, a place to build a name for ourselves, a legacy, or a retirement package. (In my kids’ case…a place to toss clothes and other stuff.)

We go to great lengths to gather the resources from hither and yon to create our nests, just like birds do. They (the nests) are intricate and multi-faceted. (Especially in my kids’ rooms. You wonder how in the world it got that way!)

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I wondered how it happens that we sometimes build nests in the wrong places. Don’t the early phases of nest-building seem right and good, only to turn on us and reveal a hoorahs-nest of problems? (I’m guessing, that my kids thought the floor would only be a temporary place for their things. But when they have no clean underwear, or they see a spider taking up residence under the rubble, they begin to think there might be a problem. No, check that. I don’t have any memories of them thinking there was a problem. I thought that. But they didn’t.)

NearΒ the end of my walk and reverie, a neighbor stops me. “You won’t believe what just happened?” He tells me how he was just sitting in his living room having just turned on the dryer. He kept hearing loud tweeting and chirping, something fluttering in the dryer vent. He turned off the dryer, went outside and lifted the vent only to see a rather largish bird, a starling he thought, looking at him. The bird ran back up into the vent. So he usedΒ some duct tape to hold the vent open, went inside and turned on the dryer for just a second or two. Came back outside and thinks the bird has flown away…no more tweeting and chirping. I hope the bird realized this was not a good place for a nest.

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Returned home remembering one of our kids’ favorite children’s books, The Best Nest. It’s a wonderful story of growing disgruntled with one’s nest, the search to find a better one in all the wrong places, and realizing that the best nestΒ is right under your nose (or beak).

For a pilgrim, our earthly nests, no matter how beautiful and wonderful they be, will never quite fit theΒ bill. We long for our heavenly nest where we will one day lay down our walking sticks for good and rest in the arms of our Maker.

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That is exactly how it happened. Crazy, these walks and the serendipity along the path.

Buen Camino fellow pilgrims!

“Instead, they were longing for a better country–a heavenly one.

Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” Hebrews 11:16