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Take nothing for the journey

by davesandel on February 4th, 2021

Thursday, February 4, 2021               (today’s lectionary)

Take nothing for the journey

Jesus summoned the Twelve and sent them out two by two. “Whoever welcomes you, stay with them until you leave that place. Whoever does not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet and leave. Take nothing for the journey except your walking stick.”

For me, that meant take only my guitar and a couple shirts and shorts, with underwear and socks to match. One pair of shoes and a pan to cook in. My backpack wasn’t even full, and the guitar fit nicely into a zippered red and black checked gig bag. I said goodbye to my parents, who had just moved into their new home on Illinois Route 10 east of Lincoln, and set out hitchhiking to California.

So they went off and preached repentance, drove out many demons, and anointed the sick with oil and cured them.

It was the summer of 1976, and since I hoped this would be a life-changing trip, I kept a journal from the beginning. Take nothing for the journey. Be here now. But now I’m glad I have the stories. When I sit myself beside the fire in Ikea’s Swedish version of a rocking chair, I can read the old journal, or I can remember, or I can make stuff up, all out of the days gone by.

O God, we ponder your mercy. As we had heard, so we have seen, that both your name and your praise reach to the ends of the earth.

And as Shakespeare wrote, these stories “are the stuff dreams are made of.” Couldn’t I fall asleep, here in my chair before the fire, and see where my sleeping mind takes me? And sometimes I’ll wake up inside my dream, rocking beside my sleeping dog, then settle back into a softer sleep, soothed by the regular breathing of my friend.

There are the dog’s stories too. They are richer than mine. Grandpa Sandel’s Shep and then along inside my own childhood, when I read the stories of Albert Paysun Terhune and named my own dog Lassie, because she was a girl … and Margaret’s Kentucky dog Skipper, her cocker spaniel.

I ran around the woods in Wisconsin with my dog Shawano. And there was Aki’s dog Koko and Andi’s dog Bear, and in the evening, exhausted from living every moment of their day, our old dogs lay sleeping on their round red rugs, warmed by fires in the fireplace, dried logs crackling … dreaming their wonderful dreams, roaring their terrible roars and gnashing their terrible teeth and always, in the end, saving their masters and mistresses from the scary and dangerous places of the world.

You have not approached a mountain that is burning with fire. You have not come to darkness, gloom and storm or to a trumpet blast of terror. No, you have come to Mount Zion, the city of the living God, to heavenly Jerusalem and her thousands of angels in joyful assembly. You have come to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. Jesus has mediated for us a new covenant, because his sprinkled blood speaks more eloquently than that of Abel.

My heroes, those dogs. And you know what? Much more so than me, they took nothing for the journey.

(Hebrews 12, Psalm 48, Mark 1, Mark 6)

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