Sunday, September 19, 2010

Are we there yet?

The LORD had said to Abram,

"Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you.
"I will make you into a great nation
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.

I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you."

So Abram left, as the LORD had told him

And so began quite a journey.

Haran ----Canaan----Shechem---Bethel---Negev---Egypt---Negev---Bethel---Hebron

And that's just in chapters 12 and 13

Set up the camp, live for a while, tear down and move on is the rhythm of the nomadic lifestyle. Don't get too fixed to the view outside your tent because it is soon going to change. Don't be surprised if you return to a place where you've camped before, but realize that although the camp ground may be the same, you've changed. We grow on the journey, and, like impatient children we long to cry out

'Are we there yet? When do we get to the promised land? When do we get to stop moving? I'm tired of carrying my tent. Haven't we been this way already? Are we lost? I'm hungry.'

My experience of the Spiritual Journey is remarkably similar, as are my complaints. I tend to be less willing to move spiritually however, ripping up spiritual tent pegs leaves me with the fear that my tent is going to collapse, that somehow I am journeying into Apostasy rather than Faithfulness....

... and sometimes I do wander the wrong way, but the God who led me this far will not abandon me in the desert of my own making.

...and sometimes what seemed like Apostasy from the outside is actually a new land overflowing with Grace and beauty and experiences with God that I could never have dreamed of when I was sitting in my tent staring at the plain before me with fear and trepidation.

If I want to be certain of every step, convinced of every path, then I will never leave my campground. My entire spiritual journey will be lived in small repetitive circles, never daring to venture into the wilderness.

I am embarking on a journey that begins tomorrow. I am facilitating a group through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. The journey takes about 40 weeks of reading, reflecting, praying and sharing. I last made this journey 2 years ago, and it caused me to encounter God in new ways. This time, although I have a greater idea of the route. I also know that I am a different person. I need to not just visit 'familiar camp grounds'. Instead I need to trust the path and and see what I need to see.

I don't know yet what tent pegs will be the hardest to remove. I'm not sure where the landscape of my life is the most unyielding and inhospitable. I do know that the journey will take me to all those places if I choose to hike the difficult trails.

And I do know that I journey following a trail guide who has been this way before and knows the landscape far more intimately than I will ever know it.

I just hope that when I start asking 'Are we there yet?' - for at some point I know I will complain, that I don't let my complaints shield me from the wondrous beauty of the journey. I'd hate to miss the sights because I'm whining.

Happy Trails.

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