Advent 13

The road is a lonely place to wake, every grain of earth and fallen leaf is new. The way the light breaks through the landscape, the smell on the first breath of wind, when the silence is split by alien cries and dawn greets in a foreign tongue.

Eyes take time to adjust and the mind a moment behind. The body feels all out of place and time, as it stretches the aches of the night, easing joints bruised by the makeshift rest and limbs weary from the road. The sights and smells, sounds and sensations of yesterday now weave into the whole journey’s pattern as space for today is made.

Breaking the fast brings some grounding. Watching companions feeling their skin, tired, tight and rough. Massaging warmth and life into still sleeping bones. Consuming heat from the steaming drink, feeling it seep slowly through the numbness.

Then we begin to prepare, binding struggling stretched muscles, patching torn feet. Packing what was pulled in haste from bags and blankets as the darkness had rushed in. Loading and balancing, smoothing out folds and lumps that might become knives and rasps through the day.

This is the life on the traveller, the wanderer, the pilgrim. The morning becomes a ritual that floats on the strangest of seas. Each day the farewells feel more distant but the faces of family grow closer. The further we go, the more painful the parting. The closer we get to our ending the more the uncertainty wounds. Things that seemed lifetimes away now stabbing fear in each step and each stop.

Do they stand on the wall and watch? Do they even know we are coming? Will the gatekeepers be ready to welcome us in, will the peacemakers open their arms? Will the fire be stoked, will the kettle be on? Will there be food enough for all?

But those are questions ahead and right now it is time to walk. God of the road be before us, God of the stream be alongside, God of the sky light our path, God of the fields and the furrows nourish, God of the dawn light our way, God of the hearth bring companionship, God of the journey lead on.

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