Longest way round is the shortest way home.
~~James Joyce in Ulysses~~
I read this quotation somewhere a number of days ago and it has stayed with me…I played around with it while thinking too of the mathematical principle of the shortest distance between two objects being a straight line. They seem to be saying contradictory things, but I am not sure that is the case.
To take the long way around is to allow for freedom. It is to allow for freedom and a good wander, mistakes and the startle of beauty, mystery and faith and adventure and love. The long way around allows time to stop and “see into the life of things,” as Wordsworth puts it.
I think the long way around also provides for grace.
Within the last month or so, I have been given multiple opportunities to accept different kinds of grace. I heard from the mother of a former student that “she reads like she does because of you.” The father of another student spoke to me about how I had been the face of God for his family. I unexpectedly received a book of poetry in the mail from a friend. I also can say that a moment of tears and frustration became a moment of grace in sharing story and conversation with a friend because of it…in realizing where I still need to grow. Another former student re-initiated conversation after a stretch of being out of touch and we had a talk that spoke of essential things…the things of Life and well-being, hope and strength.
None of this would happen, I don’t think, by taking the path of least resistance or the way of shortest distance. These are things, events, graces, brought about by a lifetime of accumulated experiences. And happen by being in particular places at particular times…at the invitation and call of God.
I’m pretty sure grace is the long way round and I know that home is God. It’s a direct connect.