We travelers, walking to the sun, can’t see
Ahead, but looking back the very light
That blinded us shows us the way we came,
Along which blessings now appear, risen
As if from sightlessness to sight, and we,
By blessing brightly lit, keep going toward
That blessed light that yet to us is dark.
– Wendell Berry, Given: Poems 74 (2006).
I first traveled to California ten years ago to attend the 64th Annual Pepperdine Bible Lectures. At the time it seemed possible that it would be my first and only trip to beautiful Malibu (ironically blogging at the time, “I cannot imagine working in this gorgeous setting.”). Life is funny. By the next year, we were planning a crazy cross-country move to Pepperdine for law school with absolutely no idea that we would just stay—and “absolutely” absolutely no idea that I would ever return to full-time ministry. So you can imagine the crazy déjà vu feelings this week when “Lecture Central” took up residence in my office for the 74th Annual Pepperdine Bible Lectures.
Life apparently is analogous to a box of chocolates (all rights reserved).
Life is unpredictable, and if you give me enough time to think about it I can pull my brain muscle. What if we had stayed in Mississippi? What if we had left California? How did we really end up here? Where are we headed now? What’s for lunch?
But you know what? I do know exactly how we got here: One day at a time. And I’m pretty sure that’s how we will get wherever it is we find ourselves ten years from now, too.
Henri Nouwen wrote, “The real enemies of our life are the ‘oughts’ and the ‘ifs.’ They pull us backward into the unalterable past and forward into the unpredictable future. But real life takes place in the here and now.” I’m with Nouwen on this one. I’m not good at it, but I’m with him.
Still, looking back every now and then, as Berry so beautifully described, provides nice motivation for the journey forward.