Wednesday, October 08, 2008

A Blessing on Your Head

I'm in Atlanta for a conference. I love Atlanta for completely irrational reasons: I used to watch Atlanta-based television when I was a kid (including Atlanta-based professional wrestling); Georgia is home to R.E.M., the Indigo Girls, Jimmy Carter, Andrew Young and a rich civil rights history; Atlanta houses Emory University, former teaching home of one of my favorite writers ever, Brian Mahan of Forgetting Ourselves on Purpose; Atlanta is an icon of the lazy South--lazy in the best sense, the sense of being relaxed and fully present. I love Atlanta for all kinds of reasons.

That being said, virtually every direct experience of Atlanta that I've had has been filled with frustration--mostly due to the challenges of getting around. Last night I missed out on an entire evening's worth of activities with the InterVarsity chapter at Emory University because I couldn't find the entrance to the campus. In past trips here I've gotten lost at night in the dark, lost in the maze of streets named for peach trees, lost on my way to the airport. In Atlanta I am, more often than not, completely bewildered.

So this morning a high-school friend of mine sent me a message via Facebook: "Hope you don't get too lost today." It strikes me that this would be a good daily blessing regardless of where we are, because regardless of where we are, it's easy to get lost--lost in our own heads, lost in our vain pursuit of material success, lost in our complex web of relationships, lost in the competing claims on our time and attention. I've been an evangelical long enough to get a little weary of the word lost, but this year it's gained some fresh traction with me, because lostness is so often a real experience. This world loses people: you have only to look under overpasses and beyond your own continent to realize that. This world also loses people who almost never move--we get disoriented right in our own psychic space. We are too often, to paraphrase one wise man, "like sheep without a shepherd."

So I hope I don't get lost today, and I hope the same for you. A blessing on your head.

2 comments:

Bob/Sir Pent said...

It's funny you say that. I was in Atlanta a few years ago for business. We got lost at night trying to get from the airport to hotel. The next day we got lost going from the hotel to the ATL office. Then we got lost going from the ATL office back to the airport...nearly missing the flight.

That place is just not "mapped out" like other cities.

tomcottar said...

a blessing on your head as well, Zimmerman. I haven't made it to ATL in four years...the Underground, the Coca-Cola museum, good food and great friends. I enjoyed getting lost in ATL much better than getting lost in Chicago.

I am finishing up Me-Ville and should have a taco-laden review up next week!

...sometimes, being lost is a good thing.