England is less than twenty-four hours away and I’m moving into pilgrimage mode, reflecting again on Jeremiah 6:16.This is what the Lord says:
“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.
Stand at the crossroads. It’s time to walk along new roads, or at least look, and step away from a weekly routine. However, as I look to my imminent departure, I am materially prepared, but am not sure about the spiritual and mental departments. Am I ready to meet the places and people I will encounter over the next weeks? To really look at the crossroads? To be open to the challenges and new ideas? I don’t have a definitive answer, but even asking the questions is a start – a way of standing and looking.
Ask for the ancient paths, for the good way. As I have prepared to look, readings from earlier pilgrims have shown some of the ancient, and not so ancient, paths ahead. Even as these stories have been drawing me to travel, it’s now time to get personal and venture on my unique journey as a disciple, as a learner, as a writer. Home remains a significant part of the good way for me. At home I am centered in faith and family. Because of the strong center here, I can travel to the center away – to be at home even while not at home. In addition I’m looking forward to seeing the ancient paths through a new lens, that of the C. S. Lewis Summer Institute – Reclaiming the Virtues: Human Flourishing in the 21st Century. Workshops, speakers, conversations, places, and more will be part of this asking and exploring. However, in the midst of all the activity, it will be essential to take time for solitude and reflection or I may miss recognizing the good way.
Walk in it. Part of me is already planning the return. With fall campus ministry activities and weekends booked, it seems the walk for my return is already in place and it doesn’t look that different from the past years. However, the next two weeks may bring changes. Maybe it will be only a slight veering of the path, or a more drastic turning. Opening myself up to change is not safe and controlled. Maybe some of those plans will need to be scrapped for others. But that’s the way of pilgrimage, and of God. He doesn’t allow us to remain comfortable in our walk if we’re off track. Taking this time away will be an opportunity to see if I need to walk in a different way, whatever that means. It’s something I can’t plan, but to which I can be open.
Many people may ask why go on such a journey. Why don’t I go to the beach or the mountains for a time of relaxation? However, in these pilgrimage journeys I find rest along the way. A rest that comes from God’s grace and truth. So it’s with this grace that I get ready to leave – to look, ask, and walk.