On Hobbits, Cats & U-Haul Trucks

december-snow4-001Fantasy characters are just about always on a journey.  Some of my favorites include Tolkien’s hobbits, (and elves, dwarfs and humans),  Ursula Le Guin’s young wizard Ged (who traverses the archipelago of Earthsea), or, more recently, Kvoth, the wizard-in-the-making of Patrick Rothfuss, who is still journeying quite uncertainly in the yet unfinished trilogy.

Something adventurous gets ignited by journey stories.  Undoubtedly every life is marked by a few journey stories, some more memorable than others.

Five years ago this week Sarah, my daughter, and I drove from Michigan to Oregon in a U-Haul with  their two cats.  Her husband, Jason, joined us a few weeks later.  The cats handled the journey well.  We set them in a laundry basket and mostly they hunkered down and burrowed into the blanket.  We couldn’t tell them the future they were heading toward, so for three days all they could do was trust that at the end of the day we would feed them, give them water, and let them run around a hotel room before packing them up again.  We traversed farmland and prairie, climbed mountains and drove through deserts. Near the end of our trip we came to the place where water, earth and sky meet up in the Columbia Gorge.  Almost comparable to Rivendell… which any Tolkien afeciado would know means deep valley of the cleft.

I’d like to think Kizzy and Oscar trusted us–inasmuch as they could–that the point at the end of journey was going to be worth the journey, and that we would sustain them during the trip itself.  For the two of us not traumatized by what we did not know, we enjoyed a beautiful adventure, being able to release ourselves to embrace whatever each day brought.

We heard a few skeptical voices before setting out.  “A cross-country road trip in January?  With a U-Haul?  And no man??”  But our husbands believed we were tough enough, or smart enough, or at least resourceful enough to manage whatever we might encounter. And mostly we had a smooth journey, which doesn’t a good tale make.

That every life is a journey is a rather over-used thought of late.  But even so, mostly I’m learning to embrace the big journey and the smaller ones, and to find beauty on the roadside, even if also peppered with snowy roads, road kill, and the occasional flat tire.  Partly I’m learning, like Kizzy and Oscar, to trust.  In my case I’m trusting that God will sustain me, and be present through to the end, no matter what any given day brings.

So here’s to moving forward into the adventures of another year.



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