From the Second Letter to the Corinthians:

Look at what is before your eyes.

(From the Daily Office Lectionary – 2 Corinthians 10:7a (NRSV) – June 10, 2013.)

Road to the Desert HorizonDo we ever really know what is “before our eyes”?

I’ve been saying the Daily Office and reading the associated lessons of the two-year-cycle lectionary for the better part of 40 years and never before has this short sentence jumped out at me like it does today!

30 years ago tonight, my wife and I made the short trip from our small bungalow in East San Diego, where we had lived while I attended law school, to Sharp Hospital in Kearney Mesa where she would, early the next morning, give birth to our son, Aidan Patrick. If anyone had said to us, “Look at what is before your eyes,” we would have described a life of law practice and stability in our home state of Nevada. We had it pretty definitely planned out. We were very definitely wrong!

As I thought about the last three decades, a line from a song kept popping into my head. I’d like to be all religious and spiritual and pretend it is a line from a hymn . . . but it’s not. The words are, “What a long, strange trip it’s been.” From Truckin’ by the Grateful Dead. Now that song is an ear-worm which probably will eat away at me all day. What it’s definitely done is taken over this meditation.

So rather than write some other words, I give you the lyrics to Truckin’:

Truckin’ got my chips cashed in.
Keep truckin’, like the do-dah man
Together, more or less in line, just keep truckin’ on.

Arrows of neon and flashing marquees out on Main Street.
Chicago, New York, Detroit and it’s all on the same street.
Your typical city involved in a typical daydream
Hang it up and see what tomorrow brings.

Dallas, got a soft machine; Houston, too close to New Orleans;
New York’s got the ways and means; but just won’t let you be.

Most of the cats that you meet on the streets speak of true love,
Most of the time they’re sittin’ and cryin’ at home.
One of these days they know they gotta get goin’
Out of the door and down on the streets all alone.

Truckin’, like the do-dah man.
Once told me “You got to play your hand,”
Sometimes your cards ain’t worth a damn, if you don’t lay ’em down,

Sometimes the light’s all shinin’ on me;
Other times I can barely see.
Lately it occurs to me
What a long, strange trip it’s been.

What in the world ever became of sweet Jane?
She lost her sparkle, you know she isn’t the same
Livin’ on reds, vitamin C, and cocaine,
All a friend can say is “Ain’t it a shame?”

Truckin’, up to Buffalo. Been thinkin’, you got to mellow slow
Takes time, you pick a place to go, and just keep truckin’ on.

Sittin’ and starin’ out of the hotel window.
Got a tip they’re gonna kick the door in again
I’d like to get some sleep before I travel,
But if you got a warrant, I guess you’re gonna come in.

Busted, down on Bourbon Street, Set up, like a bowling pin.
Knocked down, it get’s to wearin’ thin. They just won’t let you be.

You’re sick of hanging around and you’d like to travel;
Get tired of traveling and you want to settle down.
I guess they can’t revoke your soul for tryin’,
Get out of the door and light out and look all around.

Sometimes the light’s all shinin’ on me;
Other times I can barely see.
Lately it occurs to me, What a long strange trip it’s been.

Truckin’, I’m a goin’ home,
Whoa whoa baby, back where I belong,
Back home, sit down and patch my bones, and get back truckin’ home.

Now that I sing it through, I realize this is a song that’s all spiritual and religious. It occurs to me that life is a trip and, despite Paul’s admonition, no matter how careful we scope it out, we really can’t see what is before our eyes. We always end up looking back and saying, “What a long, strange trip it’s been!”

Strange and wonderful. Thanks be to God!


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Father Funston is the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Medina, Ohio.