From the Archives ~ Head in the Right Direction

Reflections By Bryn Thiessen 

Originally Published April/May 2011 Canadian Cowboy Country Magazine

May you have the foresight to know where you’re going and the insight to know when you’re going too far. —Irish blessing


By definition, a journey is: a distance travelled at a time; travel from one place to another. Nowhere does it say that you can be certain you’ll reach your destination in the time you’ve allotted — or even at all. Still, we all journey.  Some follow the herd. Others drift off.


I’ve noticed as I get older (by the time you read this I’ll be on the mirror side of 15) that my journeying is changing. I still tend to leave the herd, and I don’t always have to know where I’ll end up, just as long as I can find the bathroom or at least a stock

trailer. I still like to ask the waitress what’s good, or at least safe, on the menu. If I can, I’ll get them to choose for me. My simple reasoning? If I knew what I was going to eat, I may as well have stayed home and fixed it myself.

For me, not knowing everything that’s going to happen—and when it’s going to—is alright. Yet now I find myself watching the weather forecast, even though I know: “The trouble with weather forecasting is that it’s right too often for us to ignore it and wrong too often for us to rely on it.” (Patrick Young)

Some folks have gone so far as to wake up a resting, rotund rodent — I mean Balzac Billy the groundhog, not Alberta’s retiring politicians — to block the sun. If his shadow appears we only have six more weeks of winter. The problem is, we don’t know which different six weeks it will be. If it happens to be one when you’re on your vacation journey, you may not be too impressed.

So here’s the question: Is knowing what’s going to happen, before it happens, worth it? Is the joy of the journey in the discovery — or the destination? I can’t answer that for you, but I can give you some thoughts on life.

If we look back to the beginning (Genesis 1:26-31) we find we were made in God’s likeness, not God- like. Part of our journey that was assigned to us were the chores (to have dominion and responsibility over creation). But we were not given God’s omniscient abilities: all-powerful, all-knowing, etc. (Most of us have trouble being on time, let alone being every- where at once.)

So how are we supposed to look ahead to see where we’re going and what we’re supposed to do? My short answer? Head the right direction and follow the right trail. If you’re in Maple Creek and you want to get to Pincher Creek — you don’t point your horse’s nose towards Regina. If your direction is right, your destination is assured.

We’ll finish up with another shot of Irish wisdom: “If I knew where I was going to die, I wouldn’t go there.” That destination we cannot see — but we can see God’s kingdom beyond that. 

Bryn Thiessen is a rancher, poet, cowboy and preacher at Cowboy Trail Church in Cochrane. Bryn and his wife Bonny market grass-fattened beef from their Helmer Creek Ranch southwest of Sundre, Alta.