Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Journeys, Pilgrimages, Paths

I first published this post privately on Facebook and a friend asked me if it was on my blog. It was not, so here it is for my friend and anyone else.

I felt like writing today, but it's funny how the finished piece turns out differently than first written in my head. I had to change the pictures I had first chosen as I thought about how on earth does one live her life the way Jesus would live it. My London cohort actually received this type of question during our first semester. We're stuck in an elevator with someone who asks us how to "put on Christ." Here is a portion of a fellow cohort's response: 
"Stranger: Hi...
Nick, nods.
Stranger: So anyway...I was just thinking, what does it mean to 'put on Jesus?' Is that actually possible?
He stares at Nick encouragingly. Nick says nothing.
Stranger: Well?
Nick: I'm sorry, I just find that incredibly difficult to talk about.
Stranger: Why?
Nick: Because I'm English. We never talk to strangers.
Stranger: Oh. I see.
Nick: I'm sorry. It's a genetic thing.
Stranger: Would it help if I told you that I'm not a real person? That I am, actually, an artificial construct created by a man called Gary in order to pose a question?
Nick: (Relieved and suddenly much more relaxed) Oh, in that case, fire away." 
I'm telling you my British genes grow stronger every day. I answered the question...in my own fashion...I pasted in my latest blog post at the time, a piece about "Expectantly Waiting Gone Wrong -- Day 11 of Advent." Made complete sense to me, but then it also made sense to me in elementary school to write about Santa, Greek mythology style. Have. always. marched. to. a. different. beat. 
My journey started prior to my two years of study. I read the article "Sleep Therapy" by Lauren Winner in 2006. No one had ever told me that I could stop working at a decent hour and go to sleep for 8-10 hours. Darn Puritan work ethic. Jesus wept, but Jesus also slept. Even in a storm. 
On that slippery slope to Christ-likeness, I also slowed down. Okay, so maybe freeway driving is still a work in progress, but I no longer run around as if I'm my dog chasing a squirrel. And, it is a life change that others notice because it has led to patience. I sat peacefully at the bank while they figured out how to wire pounds to a bank in England so that I could pay for my reunion stay. The bank folks kept thanking me and marveling at my patience. My response came out of several years of intentionally slowing down my pace because I trusted in Jesus that all would be well. 
The greatest change has come in the area of fear. All my life, fear has driven me. My children gifted me one year with a paranoia book. I never read it because there would be all those new things to fear! While fear can still occasionally grip me, I recognize it now. Fear no longer drives my life. I have now taken over 20 airplane flights! Fear of losing my job? Been there, done that. God sustained me. Yes, there are situations where the pool of tears are beyond my ability to cope, but God sits beside me and sends others to sit beside me. Here are three statements made in one of the final sessions at the reunion I just attended: 1) Over 1,500 x God says, "My people don't listen" 2) People are not finding listeners among Christians because we/they are too busy talking 3) In spiritual formation, we dare not forget: Listen. 
From my teacher: On this journey, "Remember, every person sits next to a pool of tears."

Sometimes we have beautiful sunny path days filled with green and flowers such as in the picture at the beginning of this post, but often days are filled with mud -- how deep and slippery it is differs for each of us.

The path with the elevation gain...ugh.

The path filled with logs: sometimes the logs are in the way; sometimes the logs are something to play on!

The path with seating in the midst of tears.