From The Kitchen Window - Odyssey
Words by David Hollows
It has been said of Les Dawson, the comedian and musician who lived in Lytham St. Anne’s, that ‘he could turn a walk down the street into an odyssey.’
As you will know, the epic poem by Homer, depicts the adventures of Odysseus (Ulysees) as he returns home in Ithaca from the siege of Troy and this return involves a long journey of many adventures.
We also know, that with many comedians such as Les Dawson, the ability to craft words is essential if the comedy is to have an impact, words are not chosen at random and many hours are taken up by the wordsmith.
Throughout history there have been many memorable odyssey: the moon landing in 1969 and currently the probes to Mars and the space aspirations of entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk.
Chaucer wrote his famous, ‘Canterbury Tales’ and Bunyon his ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ all on the theme of the odyssey.
History records the crusades as European Christians attempted to secure the release of Jerusalem and there are the heroic tales of the Knights Templar.
History also records the desperate odyssey of the Armenian Christians expelled from Turkey in the years leading up to 1915 and the odyssey of Christian missionaries going into the African jungles or the Amazonian forests as well as those mountaineers who never conquered Everest.
The odyssey also involves solo sailing achievements across the Atlantic, the world oceans and swimming the English Channel. There are also the athletes who cycle or run huge distances in all sorts of climates and conditions as well as the odyssey to the bottom of the oceans to explore the Mariana trench, for example.
Although many of us will not have experienced such as an odyssey as outlined above, many of us will have encountered the journey which includes the question, are we there yet? or the long-haul flights to places such as Australia which never seem to end, no matter how excited we may be.
In some ways, modern travel has lost the element of the odyssey as journeys are so quick, for example, the Channel tunnel takes only 35 minutes from Dover to Calais. However, the world cruise is a brilliant example of an odyssey which would be great to attempt.
Photo by Luca Bravo via Unsplash
However, you do not need to travel miles to experience the odyssey; walks during Covid-19 days have provided us the opportunities to hear and see nature in different and unexpected ways. The odyssey also changes perspective when riding in a coach or bus (top deck as you see far more) rather than driving in a car and even the routine of a normal drive to the shops or nearest town can become an odyssey if we choose to look for it.
The Bible is full of odyssey experienced by a range of people, including God himself. Adam and Eve faced the uncertain odyssey of leaving the Garden of Eden to go into the unknown wider world (Genesis chapter 3).
Abraham was called by God to leave his home and travel miles to an unknown future (Genesis chapter 12).
The Hebrews faced the daunting odyssey of leaving from Egypt and travelling across the Red Sea then desert to reach the Promised Land (Exodus chapters 14 to 17). Joshua had the very uncertain odyssey of claiming the Promised Land from a variety of other people groups (Joshua chapter 1).
Jonah had a very unusual odyssey in the belly of a big fish whereas Naomi could return to Israel with some certainty for herself and Ruth.
Both Ezra and Nehemiah had a similar experience of the odyssey as they returned from exile with the people of Israel and both faced the tasks of restoring both a nation of people as well as physical buildings.
Jesus spent three years on an odyssey as He travelled around Israel teaching and healing with His disciples and Paul had many unexpected odyssey during his years of missionary travel which included shipwreck (Acts chapter 27) as well earthquakes (Acts chapter 16).
Jesus tells of the unsuccessful odyssey of the Prodigal Son (Luke chapter 15) which is in contract to the story of the business man on the road the Jericho whose odyssey was a positive one when he was rescued by the Good Samaritan (Luke chapter 10) There are the examples of odyssey experienced by the angels; Gabriel speaks with Mary (Luke chapter 1) as well as with Joseph (Mathew chapter 1) as well as the shepherds (Luke chapter 2).
The greatest odyssey has to be the Incarnation; when God himself comes to our world as the baby in Bethlehem as an expression of His redeeming love and to show us how to live through the example of Jesus.
So, will your 2021 be a year of odyssey?
Have you already planned your odyssey for this year?
Is this year one of new odyssey, perhaps as you celebrate a birthday milestone or a family wedding? Or, you may have a career change or house move.
Whatever your odyssey experiences this year, have the assurance that our God is with you every step of the way, that is, if you choose to allow Him to share your odyssey with Him.