I was in California last week, visiting my daughter (hence the hiatus from blogging), and while there, we took an excursion to Ashland, Oregon. We were on the hunt for a chair for her bedroom: something that would help create a reading nook and turn her rather generic space into one that more clearly reflected who she is. Not exactly sure what we were looking for, and unfamiliar with the territory, we ventured into a 2nd Hand/Antique shop off of Eighth Street. A quick perusal of the contents yeilded only one possibility--a set of 1880's Napoleonic parlor chairs in an interesting shade of green and a price perhaps a bit more than we'd anticipated doling out.
We passed them at a quick stroll, exited, and moved on to another shop. Nothing. But the owner of this particular store directed us down the road to a huge second-hand mall in Medford. In his words, "If you don't find it there, you won't find it anywhere." So down the road we went--a rather slow, traffic-light-pocked by-way of dubious beauty, eventually arriving at what we were sure was the place of which we'd been told. Wandering through a myriad of booths turned up only one possibility--another handcarved 1880's chair, closer to our price range, yet more of a desk chair than a setting chair. Recalling the man's statement, we almost purchased it, for fear that we would find nothing more in keeping with our shadowy picture.
As I think back upon it, the whole experience seems fraught with allegory from the time we descended from sunshine in the mountains to heavy overcast in Ashland. We found the perfect thing there after much circuitous searching, and topped back into the sunshine just in time to watch the sun set. Having found something we didn't know we were looking for, it then became the reference for all successive choices.
How often we wander through our days looking for something we've glimsped in our hearts, be it direction, relationship, or dream, hoping we'll know it when we see it, and not totally confident we'll find it, after all. We wander about in the cloudiness of uncertainty, hesitant to depart from the familiar, fearful of missing the best, and not confident we know what that looks like. It is in these times that we often settle for less, as almost happened with the 1880's desk chair. True, it was lovely in itself with its dark carved roses and graceful cabrolet legs. But it was lesser.
Lord, from the lesser things in life, preserve us! May we not make decisions based on fear, but on the dream in our hearts. May we travel the byways in hope and faith that somewhere, sometime--if we do not settle for less--we will hold in our hands that which delights our heart. And may the knowledge that the sun still shines in the high blue heavens comfort and sustain us as we search the cloudy lowlands for treasure.