Friday, June 4, 2010


Day One...I pick up the rental car; a Nissan Versa (is it a hatchback?! Ahh, no such luck and this is just fine). It's a sweet little car--only 4,664 miles--and on the drive to Los Angeles, I promise it lots of adventure: high mountain passes, snow, volcanoes, friends, foreign soil, nature galore and maybe even some mild "four-wheeling." First stop is my friend Emily's for a sweet layover and time catching up.

I already miss Jason, and notice that while Emily and I are sitting on her couch talking tonight, I reach out for her and spend most of the conversation with my hand on her legs. Is it because I miss Jason, or because I am feeling more comfortable with touching people. And does it matter why? I think not.

I told Emily that I was going to spend this trip observing God. But I also mean following God--whatever that might look like. I've had this idea for several weeks, now and have been doing it at home. I think time alone in the car will also be a great chance to do so. About the time this thought caught me, I read the following from Pilgrim at Tinker's Creek, by Annie Dillard. In it, she recalls when she used to hide a penny for some lucky passerby to find. Not only would she hide the penny, she would then draw arrows pointing to its location. She wouldn't stick around to find out who the lucky person was though. She goes on to say:

...I've got great plans. I've been thinking about seeing. There are lots of things to see, unwrapped gifts and free surprises. The world is fairly studded and strewn with pennies cast broadside from a generous hand. But--and this is the point--who gets excited by a mere penny? If you follow one arrow, if you crouch motionless on a bank to watch a tremulous ripple thrill on the water and are rewarded by the sight of a muskrat kit paddling from its den, will you count that sight a chip of copper only, and go your rueful way? It is dire poverty indeed when a man is so malnourished and fatigued that he won't stoop to pick up a penny. But if you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted in pennies, you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days. What you see is what you get.

That's how I've been experiencing God lately. I've been noticing God in all these pennies strewn about and enjoying them as expressions of the one who put them there: the hills near Calabasas baking in the afternoon sun, the abundance of cars and people streaming out of L.A. as they head home, the sight of the Jacarandas blooming alongside the L.A. river in Glendale, the tinsel toy and the way it moves as I play with my friend's cat, the feel of Jason as I hug and kiss him good-bye before setting off on this trip, the absolute and amazing satisfaction of being able to walk into a store, buy an adapter for my iPod and 10 literal seconds later hear music pour forth from my iPod through the car stereo, the feeling of being loved and cherished by my dear friend...I could go on and on.

It's only the first day, and already, I'm feeling rich as Croesus.

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