“Now the donkeys of Kish had strayed…” some of the donkeys. It isn’t an economic crisis, it isn’t life or death, it is … a holiday perhaps. “Oh take a break kid, take that guy with you, go look for the donkeys.”
But Saul takes it very seriously — they cover a lot of ground in the search. They aren’t chatting with folks. They aren’t running into kin. They aren’t feasting and making merry. Poor guys! How do you know if strayed donkeys are yours anyway? Perhaps even back then they branded the animals? Do donkeys come when you call?
There’s a sense, says a commentary I read, that each step was inevitable, each step led to Saul’s meeting with Samuel, with no intent on either part. The donkeys … are just to get the ball rolling, the journey started. What starts a journey? Wanting to see something. Wanting to find something. Wanting a bit of time off. Wanting to see family. Wanting to be with friends. Wanting to escape family and friends. Wanting to learn something. Having to go on a journey, because it is business. Having to meet someone: a future boss? a teacher? a colleague? A birth can start a journey. A transition to a new life stage. Do all journeys end in death? Can death, too, start a journey, perhaps of reconciliation? Do we just fuss about the stones on the ground, the uncomfortableness of the journey, the bad food at the inn? Do we enjoy seeing new faces, new creatures or mountains or oceans, perhaps? Do you have to actually travel to be on a journey?
But they’ve been looking for these donkeys and covering a lot of ground and Saul, wisely in my motherly viewpoint, thinks it is time to head home because soon his father will stop worrying about the donkeys and begin to worry about his son. But the boy with him, points out that there is a “man of God” in the next village.
So the plot is going to advance. They are now looking for a man of God to direct them, and the boy found by chance (chance? inevitable fate?) a bit of silver to pay for the advice. Our journeys change from asses to God, too, eh? Isn’t there something funny about asking a man of God for help to find missing donkeys?
Journeys take a life of their own. Dear Heavenly Father, guide each of our journeys, whether we are looking for something lost or looking for a man of God or looking for hope. Guide us even if we don’t realize we are on a journey. Guide our coming in and our going out, be beside us and ahead of us and behind us. Guide each step we take and help us to look around us as we journey and see the beauty and see the faces of others. Let us see each other, and care for each other with kindness, as we would a missing donkey, an injured traveler, a lost sheep. Let us shine love out, and let us breath love in. We can none of us walk alone. Thankfully, praise God, none of us are walking alone.