In Wendell Berry’s novel Jayber Crow, Jayber is the barber in a small Kentucky town that is breaking down. Jayber reflects on the matter of call.
“If you could do it, I suppose, it would be a good idea to live your life in a straight line — starting … in the Dark [Forest] of [Sin], and proceeding by logical steps through Hell and Purgatory and into Heaven. … You could take the King’s Highway past appropriately named dangers, toils and snares, and finally cross the River of Death and enter the Celestial City. But that is not the way I have done it, so far. I am a pilgrim, but my pilgrimage has been wandering and unmarked.
Often what has looked like a straight line to me has been a circle or a doubling back. I have been in the Dark [Forest] of [Sin] any number of times. I have known something of Hell, Purgatory and Heaven, but not always in that order.
The names of many snares and dangers have been made known to me, but I have seen them only in looking back. … I am an ignorant pilgrim, crossing a dark valley. And yet for a long time … I have been unable to shake off the feeling that I have been led.”
It’s one of life’s essential questions: is there any guidance, providence, or purpose to our sometimes meandering path? What role does God play in our life’s direction, and why (really, WHY?) do we turn toward that “Dark Forest” so easily?
This week, we’ll explore the life of the prophet Jeremiah, a good man who really did not like the path down which God led him. Yet through it all he saw traces of God’s guidance. It’s a highly relevant story — filled with pain, alienation and public ridicule — as so much of Jeremiah’s life was given to socially prophetic messages…. which people then liked about as much as most people do today.
I hope you have a safe, if wet, weekend.