On the journey is where we find meaning
Periodically, people lost in the Australian Outback die of thirst. Many have wandered from their broken down or bogged car. One of the cardinal rules of outback travel is never leave the car! We drill it into people.
But in our spiritual journey there is a risk in "never leaving the car" because we are lost, and we have no perfect map to show us the way. The thing is that in the spiritual life we are on an exploratory journey. We are not equipped with a car and there is no emergency service who will come looking for us... no outback policeman who we left our route with to track us down if we are late.
Instead we are like the early white explorers who must seek a new way, for to stay put is to starve, or die of thirst. We may need the help of the people of the land, people we once didn't trust, or have anything to do with. For we are not on a journey where anyone knows the way.
There are a few maps from other explorers. (We would be well served to be familiar with them... the maps of Theresa, or Thomas Merton, and scripture itself, are a far safer guide than those of Jim Jones or the Hale Bopp sect.)
The worst thing we can do is stay put; there will be no rescue.
So, at the beginning of our quest, "Who am I?" must remain a largely unanswered question. We will have a better idea of the answer when we get to the end of the journey; notice how old men are more at peace, but still do not have the answer.
There was a time when we could say "The complete end of man is to praise God and enjoy him forever" with the Westminster Confession. God may have been inscrutable, even apparently contradictory, but our place in the world was clear. Even if we were not clear about our place, the priest or minister knew.
I remember one of my children at about age 3, furiously angry with me because I didn't know the answer to a question. "Of course you know!" they shouted, "You know everything!" They've long since disabused themselves of that notion! But some parishioners have not! They too, are furious that the minister does not know! And if I am truthful, there are many times when I wish there was someone to tell me what to do. I wish I could stay safe with the car until I was rescued. But there is no car, I am in the bush, and must find my way.
A bloke today is on his own. The minister - or anybody - doesn't know. I remember an argument over a map on a ridge about the right way to go. We all went off together, but each one of us - alone - had to decide if it was the right path to safety.
So who am I? What am I here for? Do I have the ghost of a view from here on the ridge, or am I totally bushed? I can draw some lines for a map. There is the life of Jesus, which sought after justice. But is a life which is at a distance from us. We have to study it like an historian. We can work out a route for us to take in the present... asking the question "What would Jesus do?" But the answer can only be authenticated by following the route, or living out the answer.
We can only find the truth of Jesus way by finding that it makes us more free, more mature, and healthier.
I got lost in the bush once. In the end I had to follow my heart. I thought it all through... hard and carefully. I reasoned and weighed the evidence. But in the end, I had to follow my heart. In the end there was a decision... it seemed the best decision... but it was a decision of heart, there was no proof that I was choosing the right way back. Life is like that. Many of us men learned to be all brain. But we can't brain all this out. We have to learn to hear our heart... our instincts... our passions. God sits in there.
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