O that I had in the desert a traveler’s lodging place, that I might leave my people and go away from them! – Jeremiah 9:2a (NRSVUE)
I consider a stroll on the bike path to be an accomplishment, so I’m in awe of my friend who’s through-hiking the Appalachian Trail. Though she’s hiking mostly solo, occasional fellow sojourners help ease the journey.
Through social media updates, she shares miles logged, stunning photos, observations, obstacles, and her daily quest for shelter. Trailside hostels serve as lodging places with hot meals, showers, and clean water. When the trail is less generous, she seeks a safe camping spot, hoping for good enough rest. Because, come sunrise, she wakes up and does it all again.
Though my friend’s adventure is beyond my abilities, escaping into the wilderness to find a “traveler’s lodging place” plays into my escapist fantasies. In reality, that escape is only a brief pause. Each new day brings new rugged terrain to traverse.
Exhausted from the journey, God desired a traveler’s lodging place to rest and escape God’s own careless, belligerent, cruel people. But God can’t escape the people any more than the people can escape God. Not for long.
I feel you on this one, God. O that I could escape the chaos and cruelty of far too many of your people! Alas, I know this is an escapist fantasy, and I can’t escape forever to a hermit’s shack. But maybe, God, you and I can find a traveler’s lodging place so we can get some good enough rest before we rise again for the journey together. The trail is easier when you hike with friends.
Sojourning God: if we can’t escape forever, let’s find a traveler’s lodging place to rest for the journey together. Amen.
Chris Mereschuk is an Unsettled Pastor in the Southern New England Conference with a call to transitional ministry.