From Wandering to Journeying
In the 40 days of Lent, we journey towards the Hope of Easter. The season recalls the 40 years in the desert, where God’s people prepared to enter the promised land. Jesus, too spent 40 days in the desert before his public ministry. And yet, we are not simply left to wander in this desert… nor indeed to wonder!
With the graced disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving, the Church accompanies us on the journey as we prepare to celebrate the heart of the Christian Mystery; the victory of light over darkness, hope over despair, and life over death.
This reminder is needed more than ever. A reminder of the God who journeys with us, ever ancient, ever new!
In these days particularly, when darkness and death seem to hold sway, the Truth of this journeying season and the Promise of Easter in which it culminates ring ever brighter and louder.
The image of journeying is at the heart of the Christian life. The scriptures themselves are full of journeys. Noah’s migration, and Abraham’s too. The Exodus from Egypt and the return from exile in Babylon. The story of the Holy Family journeying to Bethlehem for the census and their journey into exile in Egypt and out again. The story of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem, which we will soon observe. And then later, the Emmaus journey.
Undeniably – the whole of scripture comprises one great journeying.
When a person wanders, they know no purpose or direction. When they journey, however, no matter the road, the twists and turns, they know the place to which they go.
Of course, a journey in its simplest form calls for change. A movement from one location to another. In this sense, it’s really a dis-location – which reveals the truer nature of the journey. If you’ve ever dislocated something, you’ll know how painful and dis-comforting it can be. In the same way, the Christian life is a journey, which is more often a dislocation.
We are taken from one place to another. Led. And while it is true to say that God never loves from a distance, it can equally be said that God never leaves us where and as we are. God always dis-locates us.
Daily, he calls us to leave the place of comfort, which has perhaps become a place of indifference and spiritual languor – to leave the old ways and world behind and to embark on the journey which promises the garden of Easter.
The journey can be discomforting, even with moments of agony. Yet it is the journey which promises the fullness of life.
When a person wanders, they know no purpose or direction. When they journey, however, no matter the road, the twists and turns, they know the place to which they go. This is the Christian journey. We are not orphans without identity or destination. When we live like this, we become cynical and miserable, all at the same time! While ‘false gods’ leave us where we are, stagnant and saddened, the True God calls us and not only calls but journeys with us. To the cross of Calvary and soon… to the heights of Easter.
Lent is for moving…. moving us from wandering to journeying. The ‘stepping stones’ by which we trek are those disciplines through which we grow in a greater love of God (prayer), a more generous love of neighbour (almsgiving), and a truer love of ourselves (fasting).
Recommit yourself this Lent to build on these three loves so that, setting out on the journey, we may one day be welcomed to its fulfilment.
- Fr Trenton van Reesch is the Administrator at St Christophers Cathedral in Manuka