"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

17 days til Christmas--traveling a long way off

A long way off, 5 by 7 watercolor
17 days til Christmas--a season of traveling a long way off, as it was that first Christmas long ago.
We're used to traveling long distances these days, usually at high speed, either in the air or by car, to get "home" or to relatives for brief reunions, and then scurrying back to work or other obligations.
The holidays have become almost anything but holidays, with complicated plans, scheduling and the actual travel--lots of stress, all for a few hours of days of getting together to supposedly rest.
Of course it's worth it, and we're fortunate to be able to cover those distances.
But there was a time when it was not so. Anyone who has lived on the Great Plains knows that.
There's a reference in the Bible, in the parable of the prodigal son, that speaks of those times.
Remember when Jesus says the father saw him, while he was still "a long way off"?
That doesn't happen these days. In spite of the distances, we arrive almost instantly.
I remember as a little boy in Fort Worth watching for a bus to drop my Dad off from work several blocks away. I would see him when he was a long way off, walking toward the house.
Years later, I remember when my first born was coming home for Christmas from college that first year, watching out the window for his car to turn the corner several blocks away.
The anticipation and joy has to come close to what the prodigal's father felt...he too had been hoping, watching, praying for safety.
Yes, in this season, there is anticipation of loved ones arriving, or going to visit from a long way off, people we've not seen in a while as families grow and spread out. 
But what a pleasure to see someone at a distance, like people in a car, or on horseback, or on foot, coming up a country lane.

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