A Lonely Way

By Paul Knudtson

Psalm 25

  • 5 – “Lead me in your truth, and teach me.”
  • 8 – “Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.”
  • 9 – “He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.”
  • 10 – “All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his degrees.”
  • 12 – “Who are they that fear the LORD? He will teach them the way that they should choose.”

Life is not static—we are going somewhere. We are on a journey. But we have never been at this exact place before, and we do not have a precise map. Often we feel that we are headed into the fog.  “Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths.”

Sometimes we may feel like that—that the road or path that we have been following disappears and we don’t know which way to go. So we pray, “Make me to know your ways, O LORD.”

The path changes along the way, and often takes us into unfamiliar territory:

  • Path of childhood and growing up
  • Path of getting married and raising a family
  • Path of becoming empty nesters and of retirement

When the path takes us into new country, the old maps we have relied on are no good.  We may be helped by fellow-travellers that we meet along the path, but no one has been on this exact path that I am on.


John of the Cross (Dark Night of the Soul): “To get to an unknown land by unknown roads, a traveler cannot allow himself to be guided by his old experience. He has to doubt himself and seek the guidance of others. There is no way he can reach the new territory and know it truly unless he abandons familiar roads.  (Christine Valters Paintner, The Soul of a Pilgrim)

“Alone” by Paul Knudtson – Written upon retiring

Alone.  That is how I feel.

No one knows that I am here.

Where is my place?

What if I have no place to be?

What if I’m no longer needed?

What if meaningful work is done?

My 90 year old mother said, “Well, I guess I’m not good for anything anymore.”

How does one live a meaningful life if one is “good for nothing?”

I’ve gone through school

I’ve gotten married

I’ve raised 4 kids.

The kids are gone.

I no longer earn a paycheck.

I have nothing to justify my existence.


I feel alone.

I am standing on an empty road in a barren landscape, with no direction signs,

       with no obvious destination.

       I am lost–except that I don’t even know where I am supposed to be.

How can I answer the question, “Are you lost?”  If I don’t even know where I am headed?

I have never been here before.

I am seeing everything for the very first time.

There are no familiar landmarks,

no signs that point the way.

And so I wander aimlessly, with open prairie before me; no roads, no fields, no fences, hearing only my own footsteps on the gravel.

When I stop, it is so quiet.

Not a noise anywhere.

Not a breeze.

No evidence that humans have ever been this way before.

Perhaps one day I will find someone to join me on this path,

must I walk it alone?

Lord, I do not know which way to go.

 Thus says the LORD: “Stand at the crossroads and look, and ask for ancient paths; where the good way lies; and walk in it and find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:16




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Paul was a preacher and teacher until he retired in 2015. He continues to write and listen to what God is saying to him in the ordinary and extraordinary things of life. Elaine was a public school teacher and administrator until she retired in 2018. She is using her retirement to reflect on God's work in her life and to share insights with her family and friends.

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