From the crest of the hill, I could see my book aglow in the distance, ready to be purchased at a click. But to get there I would have to travel through the dreaded Valley of Publication. Thankfully, I found good companions for this journey, most notably: Fred, Google search and Jayber Crow.
Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry, is a novel about another everyday pilgrim who worked as a barber in a small town in Kentucky. Jayber was loved by (most of) the people of his little town, and he loved them with aching simplicity. His unremarkable pilgrimage took him through many “dangers, toils and snares,” and there he was surprised to find himself aglow.
Here’s what Jayber said to me as I descended into unknown territory.
If you could do it, I suppose, it would be a good idea to live your life in a straight line–starting, say, in the Dark Wood of Error, and proceeding by logical steps through Hell and Purgatory and into Heaven. Or you could take the King’s Highway past the 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 circling or a doubling back. I have been in the Dark Wood of Error 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. Often I have not known where I was going until I was already there. I have had my share of desires and goals, but my life has come to me or I have gone to it mainly by way of mistakes and surprises. Often I have received better than I deserved. Often my fairest hopes have rested on bad mistakes. I am an ignorant pilgrim, crossing a dark valley. And yet for a long time, looking back, I have been unable to shake off the feeling that I have been led–make of that what you will.
I, too, am an ignorant pilgrim crossing a dark valley. I have been lost for days in the Dark Wood of Technology. I sit in front of the computer screen mumbling, “What? Where did those blank pages come from?” . . . “Yes!” . . . “No! How did that happen?”
Endless roadblocks and conundrums have tempted me to linger by the Pond of Procrastination. But then I press a key and suddenly something that shouldn’t work does. Meanwhile, I get an e-mail from a friend cheering me on. And I am reassured that the One who led me into this dark wood is leading me out into the light.
I will lead the blind
by a road they do not know,
by paths they have not known
I will guide them.
I will turn the darkness before them into light,
the rough places into level ground.
These are the things I will do,
and I will not forsake them.
∗ ∗ ∗
Love Mischief for the World
“Lately my husband, Robbie, and I have been biking to work during the snow-free months. We work at the same place but different shift times, so we are keeping two vehicles off the road when we ride. We also try to be intentional about buying less. While recycling and up cycling are great, we hope to stem the flow of stuff into our lives farther up stream. Buying less means living in gratitude for what we have and being content with a simpler life.” –Andrea Dunbar, Smithers, B.C.