The metaphor of “journey” is central to the Christian faith. You can’t open the Bible without finding yourself on a journey somewhere – out of the slavery of Egypt, through the wilderness toward the promised land, from exile back to Jerusalem, Ruth and Naomi on a journey to a new home, the disciples and Jesus kicking up dirt on one path or another, the Resurrected One walking with the two on the road to Emmaus, Paul travelling more than a professional tour guide.
Life is a journey, we hear, not the destination. To live is to be on our way or, as the philosophers like to say, “Being is becoming.”
At St. Andrew’s Wesley, we, too, are on a very particular journey as we prepare to exit our beloved sanctuary for 18 months or more. To help us prepare for this significant shift, the staff had a day-long workshop yesterday with organizational consultant Caitlin Frost. Caitlin ended the day with this beautiful poem by the Irish poet and teacher, John O’Donahue. The poem came as a gift, and now we pass this gift to you.
Many blessings on your way, alone and together,
For the Traveler
Every time you leave home,
Another road takes you
Into a world you were never in.
New strangers on other paths await.
New places that have never seen you
Will startle a little at your entry.
Old places that know you well
Will pretend nothing
Changed since your last visit.
When you travel, you find yourself
Alone in a different way,
More attentive now
To the self you bring along,
Your more subtle eye watching
You abroad; and how what meets you
Touches that part of the heart
That lies low at home:
How you unexpectedly attune
To the timbre in some voice,
Opening in conversation
You want to take in
To where your longing
Has pressed hard enough
Inward, on some unsaid dark,
To create a crystal of insight
You could not have known
When you travel,
A new silence
Goes with you,
And if you listen,
You will hear
What your heart would
Love to say.
A journey can become a sacred thing:
Make sure, before you go,
To take the time
To bless your going forth,
To free your heart of ballast
So that the compass of your soul
Might direct you toward
The territories of spirit
Where you will discover
More of your hidden life,
And the urgencies
That deserve to claim you.
May you travel in an awakened way,
Gathered wisely into your inner ground;
That you may not waste the invitations
Which wait along the way to transform you.
May you travel safely, arrive refreshed,
And live your time away to its fullest;
Return home more enriched, and free
To balance the gift of days which call you.
~ John O’Donohue ~