“One dark night…I went out,” begins the chapter called, “There is Somewhere to Go.”* I read the words and felt relief.
Encounters with God don’t leave us standing on the journey road in the same place where we were. Those meetings shift us, move us…uproot us from the comfort and security we know, back out into the horizon, sometimes with nothing in sight. It can be unnerving, with us wondering, “Where am I going? What’s this all for? Is down really the way to go up?” This is not a random, reactive movement, but rather a thoughtful voyage taking us further up and further into God.
This “going out from here” happens over and over. It’s how we discover who God is, who we are, and what life is really about. More than we’d like, it’s perilous with bogs of despair and lions guarding gates of good things. When “Columbus sailed into the unknown, it is said that his fearful crew was on the verge of mutiny—mutiny, rather than come to the edge of…whatever. Columbus, in this perilous atmosphere, made a stark entry each day in his logbook: ‘Sailed on.’”* As people of purpose, this renouncing of our own path secures for us the growth in Love for which we long. “To come to what you not, you must go by a way where you know not.”* And so we set out, uprooted, at times disoriented, other times with great certainty of our direction and desire.
If something inside us didn’t hunger and thirst for more of God, why would we go? If we were not so certain of God’s involvement, how could we continue forward? If we did not “trust, that at times, though we may not see a way, The Holy Spirit has a way, and will not fail in his care,” then how could we ever rest? If we did not think the end worth reaching, how could we ever persevere?
And what is the end? Is it not to encounter ourselves as well as God? Is it not to learn to embrace the brokenness we find knowing Jesus Himself has already embraced it and in the leading forward, is restoring and remaking it? Is it not to “retrieve our scattered human potential and enable us, at last to employ it in loving?”* This is the true power of journey. Not the endless steps, but the endless opportunities to become one with Love, so that it seeps from our very being in compassion and tender regard. It is life reborn, redirected, and transformed…by Love, to Love, and for Love.
This is the relief. That the weary brokenness, the dark nights I don’t understand, the journeys that seem so long are going somewhere. And that somewhere is purposed, planned and paid for…and it’s Good.
* Quotes taken from The Impact of God by Father Ian Matthews
Journey of the Mag
T. S. Eliot
“A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.”
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.
Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.
All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.