Friday, May 9, 2014


“The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say” Bilbo Baggins, Fellowship of the Ring

I love paths.  There is something gloriously hopeful about stepping into a forest and seeing a path before you, cut through the brush and trees by use or design, calling forward around corners and through twists and turns leading to places and things that I know nothing about. Yet.

I didn't always feel this way. Growing up with an undiagnosed anxiety disorder, paths into the unknown were to be avoided, certainly not sought.  I spent hours in the bush behind our farm, and felt at home there. It was known, though. The paths were well worn, by my father as he cut winter fire wood and cleaned out the tangled mess each spring. It was as familiar to me as our front lawn. Familiar and safe.

The unfamiliar paths were to be avoided.  Before I knew enough to ask how or why, I knew that the world was not a safe place. I wanted to be safe. I needed to be safe. Unknown paths are not always safe.

When Brian and I went to Maine last Friday, I picked up a copy of The Hobbit at a thrift store.  I've read it before, and having given my copy to a fellow fan, I had been on the lookout for a new one for some time.

I was buried in The Hobbit early this week, and came across Bilbo Baggins expressing his very definite opinion about adventures -

"We are plain, quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! I can't think what anyone sees in them,"

I had to smile. I remember thinking and feeling like that.  I wouldn't have expressed it so, because while going on adventures terrified me, wanting to go on adventures has always been fairly fashionable.

Somewhere along the years, though, my heart has changed.  Because that is what was missing. I had the mind for adventurous paths, but not the heart.  I was broken, and needed to be healed.  God did that in me.

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then and do not let yourselves be burdened by a yoke of slavery." Galatians 5:1

What is more enslaving than fear?  I lived in a fear that was overpowering in its intensity The fear was real because the danger was real. I do not feel ashamed of it.  No amount of positive thinking or motivational Facebook post could battle it.  There is a brokenness that words cannot fix, a fear that clings because it makes sense.  To say that I could overcome was foolish, because I couldn't. To say things would be alright was lunacy, because they wouldn't.  To say that there was nothing to be afraid of was insulting, because of course there is much to be afraid of.  Real stuff too, not the fear-mongering threats of a world that seeks to create fear in order to sell protection.  Real stuff.

God did not swoop into my life and tell me that I would never be hurt again.  What He did do was show me a part of myself that, once in complete and trusting union with Him through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, COULD never be hurt again.

"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." Ezekiel 36:26

Life is an adventure. So many things are happening, and there is always potential for complete disaster.  Or  extravagant joy. Or both. At the same time.  Life is weird like that.

I love paths. They remind me that I am on a journey, that there are new and wonderful and scary and challenging and exciting and odd and joyful experiences awaiting me.

"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step out onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to."  Bilbo Baggins, Lord of the Rings

"When the path ignites a soul, there's no remaining in place. The foot touches ground, but not for long." Hakim Sanai

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