A definition of journey is traveling from one place to another; and one of the synonyms is trip. A journey can be long or short. We may think of a journey or trip using a vehicle, plane, or train; but walking is also included in traveling from one place to another.
We have all gone on a trip or made a journey from one place to another. Perhaps as a child you visited your grandparents every Sunday as my family did. You might have visited a relative or friend in another city. Some days our adult lives are so filled with things to do that at the end of the day we feel that we have been on a long, long journey.
Our journey of life may have involved literally moving from one location to another. Throughout our lives, we develop relationships only to move away from them literally or emotionally.
In our life’s journey, we all have experiences that are life-giving as well not so life-giving.
The journey also is a time-honored metaphor for the spiritual journey. From the journey of Abraham in response to God’s promise; to the call of Moses; to the journey of the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery; to Jesus’ own journey; to the journey of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus; to the journey of the apostles and disciples, scripture makes it clear that a journey is a privileged time.
Journey as a metaphor for the spiritual journey suggests to me a sacred adventure and a life-long pilgrimage that is never finished in this life; and it requires on-going conversion.
Jesus tells us the purpose of the spiritual journey is “to love God with your whole heart, with your whole soul, with your whole mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). Micah 8:6 also mentions what the spiritual journey entails. This is what the Lord requires: “to act justly, to love with mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”
Although our journey can be difficult, there are some provisions, supplies, attitudes that are helpful along the way.
Openness: to possible change in the way we see and relate to God, others, and the way we view ourselves. We may have to let go of some assumptions and attitudes and be willing to be taken into a new direction. This openness requires not only an open mind but a welcoming heart that makes room for others and is exhibited by our actions.
Courage: to be open to growth takes courage. Abraham and Sarah embraced the unknown.
They were called by God to embark on a journey. This couple packed up their whole family which consisted of not only family members but their servants and animals and were on a journey to an unknown destination. It takes courage and involves risks to embrace the unknown
It takes courage to try new and unfamiliar ways of being and acting. It takes courage to face our struggles and adversities without bitterness. It takes courage to forgive ourselves and to offer forgiveness to others knowing there may be no response.
As we encounter difficulties and obstacles in our journey, God promises to be in our midst traveling with us and sending others to help along the way.
• Think of a situation in your life that entailed courage. What was difficult? What was the outcome? Was there someone who helped you?
My next blog continues with other supplies that are helpful on our spiritual journey.
Ponderings for you:
• “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave [person] is not the one who does not feel afraid but the one who conquers the fear.”
• One of the oldest forms of “courage” is related to the heart- the center of one’s mind, emotions, and will. In Latin, the root word for courage is cor-heart. In old Norman French courage comes from the word for heart- coeur. From this perspective, “courage is the measure of our heartfelt participation with life, with another, with ourselves, with a community, a work, a ministry, a future.” Dr. W. Craig Gilliam in a presentation entitled Reflections on Courage: A Core Value at the Louisiana Conference, UMC. July 2014.
By Sister Marie Leonard, OSB
Photo source: www.exploringalabama.org