Monday, January 09, 2006

compass

I’m not really sure of my place at the moment. Have you ever felt like that? Most people do at any given time in their lives. For some, the revelation that follows can lead to drastic changes, for others maybe just a brief nod of acknowledgement and then life trudges on. When I get like this, I usually try to get my bearings by finding the familiar. In my younger days growing up in the East I would wander the woods quite often…often enough that I didn’t need a compass. I was blessed with an inner sense of direction and combined with a familiarity of my surroundings, even deep in the woods, I was very comfortable. I did always carry a compass though. Arrogance could have caused me to leave that crutch behind, but there was something comforting about knowing that it was with me. My method was always the same, take a reading before heading into the woods and then securing it in my pocket. I never used it on the journey, but I always knew that I could. I relied mostly on the familiar. It’s a different story when the familiar is not anywhere to be seen. I get this way mostly when my wife is not around. She’s gone for two weeks and so a big piece of the familiar is gone, and with it goes security. When we are separated I have too much time on my hands. Sometimes I fill it by working too much. Work is familiar, so I try to use it to lead me through. I find that this is a poor substitute for a relationship. Relationships bring comfort, they bring direction, and sometimes purpose. The reality is, though, that I’ve found many relationships to be simply another compass in my pocket…something to be referred to now and then, but mostly just forgotten in my pocket. They may bring a sense of security with the knowledge that they’re there. That’s alright for me, but I wonder about the compass. Is it alright for the compass, or was the compass made for more? I see too many people in my life’s vocation with too many compasses in their pockets. What they need is relationship. The church was meant to be a place of relationship, but we spend so much time doing church instead of being church that relationships are at best, compasses in pockets. At worst, there are no compasses and no pockets to put them in. With my wife gone, I sense that I’m getting a glimpse of many of the lives that pass through our doors. They may be hollow, they may lack guidance, they’re certainly searching. I know that authentic relationships would help lead them through. In the end, I realize, the real relationship that is needed is the one we can have with Jesus. But for most of us, we find our way there with the guidance of someone here. We just need to clean out our pockets.