Today’s homily was all about being lost, and being lost sheep, and the everyday ways we are lost and find ourselves again. I don’t know why, but my first visit to the UK kept popping up in my mind throughout my pastor’s talk. Not just the visit or the trip itself, but all the little times that I was lost there. I don’t think we were ever truly lost, but those moments seemed so big at the time, and even now they stand out in a seemingly unrelated homily that included my pastor being lost in the snowy woods with his dog.
My first thought of being lost in England was standing in the rain. I don’t think we had umbrellas, but we were looking at a map and it was raining. It was a cold, poking kind of rain that covered my glasses We were years away from little wipers on your eyeglasses.
At that time, we stayed at youth hostels and you can’t spend the daylight hours at a hostel, even in the cold, winter months, so we were up and out every morning. I don’t remember where we were heading on this day, just that we didn’t know where we were, and we needed to look at our map.
We were surprised when an older woman came out of her house and across the street with an umbrella and showed us where we were, and how to get to where we were going. She said to go across the field we were standing next to – it was faster if a bit muddy. We weren’t sure about going across someone’s property, but she said it would be alright. We took it.
It was definitely a shortcut.
When we crossed the border into Wales, I hadn’t realized that I was lost, but I knew that I had been found. I talk about this aspect of my trip often, so I won’t be redundant, but it is a significant thought of being lost even if I hadn’t known it at the time. It was, and continues to be a sacred place for me.
We also found ourselves lost on Craigower Hill just above Pitlochry in Scotland. We kept climbing up and up and up. We didn’t quite make it to the summit, but we made it pretty close. We slid down and had to start again about halfway up, and then it started snowing.
Luckily we found ourselves at the bottom eventually at The Moulin Inn for some fabulous lasagna and cider.
We became stuck in the Cotswolds having planned on leaving on Sunday, and not knowing that the buses don’t run on Sunday. The hostel warden took pity on us and let us in earlier than their usual evening opening. He also loaned us books and told us some of the history of the town, Stow-on-the-Wold.
Being lost in Edinburgh, in the snow, at two o’clock in the morning was better with a new friend than alone.
This was a three week trip in January with my college roommate, and these are only a handful of memories that popped up during the homily on lost sheep.
Being lost isn’t so bad. I know I’m never alone and what all of these anecdotes remind me is that no matter how long you’re lost or where, there is always a way out, a way to be found, a way to find yourself and that trip was one of those places and times that I did.
(Reading: Jeremiah 23:1-6)