Uncharted Territory

Genesis 12:1

When I was a hospital chaplain I read a piece called “Hermits, Nomads, and Pilgrims.” I don’t remember the author’s name, and today Google failed me in identifying the work. At any rate, the essence of the writing was a contrast of the three. Hermits, nomads, and pilgrims have this in common: they have left their old way of life and are living apart from society and their culture of origin. Hermits travel to a place away from humanity and stay there, alone. Nomads travel from place to place, but with no specific destination. Pilgrims travel too, but they have a given destination. I remember very much enjoying the metaphor, and today I am aware that I have been each of these at some point in the past months since losing my wife.

In the first weeks of widow-hood, I became a hermit. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, I didn’t go to work, and I avoided social events. People were nice to me. They called me on the phone to check on me. They came by the house. They invited me to dinner. I didn’t want people, though. I wanted to withdraw into my grief and alone-ness.

After a while I became a nomad. Every weekend I would travel. I wanted to be anywhere except home.  I sold the Dodge Durango that my wife bought for a “Grandma Wagon.” I no longer needed or wanted space to haul eight people. I bought a touring car and put almost 40,000 miles on it in the first year. I wanted to escape the very place that had previously been my sanctuary, our sanctuary.

Now, I am entering the Pilgrim phase. I am not hiding alone at home, and I am not wandering aimlessly. I have a destination, I just don’t know what it is. I will know it when I get there. I’m following God one step at a time, like Abraham. At first, I thought this might mean a geographical change, moving to a new town and a new job. Now, I don’t necessarily think that is the case. This is a situational journey. Let me explain.

My paternal grandfather died before my parents ever met, so I never knew him. My maternal grandfather died at age 52. I was only two years old, and I don’t remember him at all. My father died when I was 12. The point is I never saw a man grow old. I am now older than my grandfather was when he died. I am older than my father was when he died. Everything I learned about life, I learned mostly on my own – how to handle money, how to apply for a job, how to court a woman, and how the raise a family. I have no one to follow and no road map.  I am in uncharted territory.

Early in my doctoral work my mentor asked, “Where do you see yourself in five years, in ten years?” This was basically a “What do you want to be when you grow up?” question. That fit perfectly because I never felt like I had arrived. I always felt like I was still in preparation, in progress. I just didn’t know what I was being prepared for. I thought on the question for a bit, then I said, “I want to write, speak, and travel.”

For some time now, I have been sharing my stories with you in this format. Several of you have encouraged me to consider a book, and I listened. I am currently working on  compiling these stories and others into book form. I have also begun working on another project. I am writing. As a pastor, I have addressed audiences large and small, and as a teacher I regularly speak, but I feel compelled to reach a wider audience. That’s where you come in.

I am asking first for your prayers. As God brings me to mind, please take a minute to pray that the right doors will open for me. Second, if you are in a position to schedule speakers for gatherings, I would ask that you consider me. I have no agent, no contract, and no expectation other than an invitation. I promise to have something worthwhile to say, and I will never embarrass you, well…almost never. I will travel to where you are, and we’ll enjoy being silly and serious.

On a personal note, I appreciate the numerous comments and encouragements through Facebook and on this page. Your friendship and your prayers have been significant in my healing and discovering my future path.  This journey is exciting and a little scary too, but as my father-in-law used to say, “See ya down the road!”


Published in: on September 7, 2018 at 8:46 am  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. I will pray and share your request. We love you, Wes! You are amazing! I am ever grateful for your family’s presence in my life.

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