No Direction Home

Seek and ye shall find.

-- Jesus of Nazareth

How many of us ever find what we seek? For most, it seems, the finding has given way to perpetual seeking, which becomes an end in itself. We like to think we are getting somewhere without really noticing where we are. We lose our way because we do not seek as a small child would, with no particular end in view.

When my oldest son was still barely more than a toddler I used to take him for walks to a nearby playground and then around a small pond before returning home. I would tell him we were going to the playground, but to a child that age a destination is only dimly associated with actually arriving somewhere. For him the adventure began as soon as we stepped outside. There were butterflies to chase, dandelions to pick, and stray cats to befriend, as well as endless nooks and crannies to explore along the way. A short walk to the playground, with a swing around the pond, could easily take an hour or more, an eternity for a small boy.

One difference between man and boy is that a man generally gets lost seeking some destination, whereas a small boy is lost when he can't find his way home. Henry Thoreau was in little danger of losing his way in either case, since he stuck close to home most of his life, only occasionally venturing outside New England. "I have traveled a good deal in Concord," he wrote in Walden, without a trace of irony. He saw no need to set out to discover the world, preferring to sit by the hour at the door of his little cabin in the woods and let the world come to him. In one of his journal entries, he wrote, "The man who is often thinking that it is better to be somewhere else than where he is excommunicates himself."

The message that Jesus brought to the world was essentially this. To those who looked elsewhere for redemption, he said, "The kingdom of God is at hand." He did not invoke Israel's past greatness or the promise of future glory. He meant right now. As the Apostle Paul said, "Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation." God's kingdom eludes our grasp only because we blindly refuse to believe it is within reach. This was something Thoreau understood better than most. He knew you don't have to look far to find what you seek. You just have to be awake.

Henry Thoreau, Walden; Journal of Henry David Thoreau
Mark 1:15
2 Corinthians 6:2

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