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The very excellent and emotive line, ‘Lone wandering, but not lost’, comes from the pen of American poet William Bryant, who paints in words the path of a solitary waterbird flying to its home at dusk. The poet feels sure that the bird’s lonely but careful flight is a picture of his own, and like his fellow creature floating through the crimson sky, he too feels that he is being safely guided by a Higher Power; and that is the poet’s consolation and the poem’s confidence.
The experience of ‘lone wandering, but not lost’ has plenty of data in the Book. There’s Joseph, travelling as a captive slave to Egypt. There’s Jacob, lone wandering from his brother Esau’s wrath. There’s Moses, moving quickly through the desert away from Egypt. There’s David, in his lonely flight to a Philistine town. And there’s David Son, walking from Pilate’s judgement seat to the humiliation of Golgotha.
But it’s the ‘not lost’ component of the phrase that keeps these lonely walks from descending to despair; and the confident hope, that that in each case, the coordinates of the traveller match those ordained by the Higher Power. Lone wandering is not glamorous. All of us crave a few moments to ourselves, but not long periods of solitary confinement. But knowing that our lives are in the hands of a caring God and are being led by His wise providence, keeps the misgiving at bay, and fills the lonely walk with hope.
DM 17th May 2021