The other day, I re-posted a paragraph or two about the differences between a pilgrim and a tourist. It is risky to live as pilgrim - it takes courage and faith and an openness to be led both internally and externally. Ultimately, with such a posture, the path opens to us and we begin to notice: All of Life is Sacred and All of life is Gift.
In my book, unhurryUp! into Easter: A Lenten Pilgrimage, I share the Pilgrim's credo that my own Franciscan Spiritual Director passed along to me. It has been a valuable, ongoing reminder to me of what is really most important as I walk with God in this life. Over the next few days - as we approach the beginning of Lent, I am going to share some thoughts about each of the five statements in the Pilgrim's credo. If you'd like to lean into this more, I humbly ask that you'd consider purchasing my devo in the Kindle store (by clicking the link to the right.) Today - we're on the third line: I walk by Faith, with Grace
I Walk in faith, with hope
I am not in control - yup.
I am not in a hurry - ugh.
I walk in faith, with hope.
Walking by faith - it is the call of the journey. The very fact that I am not in control and need to remember that I'm not in a hurry require a walk of faith.
Faith Journeys are a part of every great story. Even every meaningful Hollywood movie and historic mythological tale has a "hero's journey" involved. There is the almost predictable plot/formula where a person travels from the known to the unknown, with conflict, overwhelming obstacles and temptations. Then she encounters a moment of "aha,", usually when things seem the most despairing and hopeless, after which our hero steps into a new way of seeing and being in the world. After finding "truth" (or love, or answers, or herself) she re-enters and comes home changed for the better. We love these stories. We want these stories to be our own stories.
Every story in the Bible has some sort of faith journey attached to it - leaving the garden, exiting Egypt, wandering in the desert, entering the promised land full of giants! A prodigal leaves and returns home. Joseph, thrown in a pit by his brothers is carried off and eventually rises to key leadership in a foreign nation. Saul, a crusader against Christians is off on a journey by way of Damascus, where he is blinded and transformed and eventually ends up traipsing all over the known world on his epic three missionary ventures. Even a "smaller" story starts with a step...Ananias, invited by God to go lay hands on this newly transformed persecutor, Saul, had to take a rather reluctant first step out the door to deliver a message and God's blessing to Saul (Acts 9:17-18).
What are the unknowns of your path? What are the ways that God has invited you to hold onto his promises with hope, even when it feels like all the cards are stacked against you? How might you take just the next step, by faith, and with hope, into the unknown...knowing that so many saints have gone before us to pave the way.
I know I've shared this before many times - but it is such a sweet prayer: Perhaps you can pray this into whatever circumstances you now find yourself this day - especially the ones that make you feel in suspense, and incomplete:
Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new...
Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be.
Give our Lord the benefit of believing that His hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.