I have been a MESS for a very very long time. I think if you want to call it a “mid-life” crisis, then you should call the Guinness Book of World Records, because it has been going on for FAR too long…getting gnarled and unkempt like in the photograph of the worlds longest fingernails. Well, it is time to trim away that introspection that has consumed much of my 40’s so far and let loose the wisdom that has been gained by the Journey. Let’s talk about a couple of famous journey’s and how they ended.
First, I learned (thanks to Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz) that there is no big shiny place that will be the answer to all your questions, prayers, hopes and dreams. The Emerald City in the movie was the height of Hollywood Glam, everyone there with the perfect costumes, makeup, making the perfect dance move at the perfect moment, singing the perfect note to blend into angelic harmony yet the whole place was as unsustainable and fake as the Wizard himself…well meaning and not bad people, but artificial, and with no more answers than Dorothy had at the beginning of the journey. So, as we all know, where did the journey end? At Home, where it all began, with a deeper understanding of what was there all along, but with a new appreciation and love for it. Had it changed while she had been gone? No, it was still black and white and rather dusty, but Dorothy had changed, She had learned from the stories of others, she had seen what she thought she wanted, and she found that she was much stronger then she ever imagined.
The second lesson I learned was from our dear, beloved Bilbo Baggins. A blessed little Hobbit who travels WAY far out of his comfort zone, not for personal gain or riches, but for the greater good. And how is the poor thing repaid for his selfless acts? really, not well, but it re-charted his life and the life of those he loved. Tolkein’s poem (written by Bilbo) gives me insights into what it is like to have a life of mission larger than ones self, though written about Aragorn, it is easy to extrapolate Tolkien’s Catholic roots and the identity of the true King:
- All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost;
- The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
- From the ashes a fire shall be woken, A light from the shadows shall spring;
- Renewed shall be blade that was broken, The crownless again shall be king
I don’t want to spend too much time on each word and line of the poem, but I do want to acknowledge the tone. That treasure isn’t always what glitters, that a narrow, wandering path isn’t always wrong or of no use, that wisdom takes time to gain and from the dormant ashes resurrection can come. I have listened and watched many stories, those in books, movies, documentaries, in person and what they all have in common is “home”. Finding a place, maybe not the physical place of your birth, but the place where your heart resides, a place you would fight for against all odds.
So, here I sit, at home. physically, psychologically and spiritually with a richer and deeper understanding of how important that is, what a blessing that is. Understanding that my journey was never to find the Emerald City and stay, or to leave home never to return, but to step out of my comfort zone, to fight for the greater good and return home from time to time to reconnect with the essence of what it means to belong. Neither Dorothy nor Bilbo returned to a bright shiny home with no worries, no problems, no work or issues, but they returned with the knowledge that it was worth working on, and that work would all be joy, the deep abiding joy of truly being home, because as Dorothy said “There is NO place like home”.