As a child, were you ever lost?
Even if it was only for a minute or two in the grocery store, I’ll bet you still remember that feeling of panic, disorientation, and fear. Which direction should you go? Should you stay right where you are and wait for someone to find you? If you wandered away, do you go back to the place you wandered from, or to a new place where you hope someone will be waiting for you?
This week we’ll continue our “Gifts of the Dark Wood” worship series with “The Gift of Feeling Lost.” In his book “Gifts of the Dark Wood,” author Eric Elnes shares David Wagoner’s poem “Lost” to point to the best thing we can do when lost and the gift that may come our way when we feel lost:
Stand still. The trees ahead
And bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here.
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger.
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers.
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it you may come back again.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you.
You are surely lost. Stand still.
The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.
In our scripture for this week — I Kings 19:4, 9-13 — the prophet Elijah is looking for God. Well, actually, he’s mostly running away from his problems. He doesn’t know what’s going to happen — or what to do in the meantime. Elijah is feeling lost. He looks for God in the dramatic — the places where he thinks God will likely be: in the powerful wind, in the rattling earthquake, and in the consuming fire. But he doesn’t find God in any of those places or in his panicked searching. Rather, God finds him and Elijah experiences God in “a sound. Thin. Quiet.” (I Kings 19:12, Common English Bible)
Friends, there are no straight or clear paths in the Dark Woods of life. There are lots and lots of zigzags, and sometimes, like Elijah, we have a tendency to just start running, in one direction or another, hoping to magically find what we’re looking for. We’ve all likely been taught, either as children in the grocery store or as hikers on a mountain trail, that when we’re lost we need to stay where we are and wait for someone to come find us. However, this is most often not our first impulse.
So my question to you is, when you feel lost — with no sense of which direction to go to find your way — what do you do?
I look forward to delving further into this Gift of the Dark Wood with you this Sunday in the Sanctuary.
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster,