"Dyma ni yn awr
ar daith ein gobaith."
("Here we are now
on the journey of our hope.")
~ Morgan John Rhys (Welsh pastor), 1795.
If we recognize in our lives the imagery of pilgrimage, of an evolving progress at unpredictable paces, how can we know an advancement that eludes being quantified? Further, should I try to apply the limits of assessment, that would divert and complicate the very facility that allows me to comprehend. Making steps into new realms, hopefulness takes on a commonplace tangibility with the many symbols of journeying, of crossing, of passing-over. As today becomes where my steps have brought me to stand, looking back can be a reckoning- instead of a luring sea of regret- and it is possible to reach forth with hope. And this perception causes me to find the subtle, even quiet signs that can remind us of our forward paces. It seems the less spectacular the reminder is, the more deeply-rooted the renewal and reinforcement. Transition becomes apparent when imposed perfectionism and self-condemnation are transfigured by an abiding wonderment of the moment’s potential.
Can one be assured their life is the pilgrimage of trust they aspire to pursue? My convincement of the permanence of this ongoing course has not manifested in events so much as the spaces between vistas and trials alike. It suffices for me to know I have covered rugged distances and continue on, all for good purpose, because I am on a voyage I want to take. The embarkation itself is an excited anticipation: not a forbidding precipice, but a gratefully traversed threshold. My wonderment at the presence of grace at so many unexpected turns, is accompanied by a fervor for fulfillment. But indeed such aspiration is tried in the grit of real life which is replete with real tragedy. Yes, the journey has signs and landmarks, and the essence of setting forth comes with such acceptance of things like contradictory rungs and how all things spiritual are unconstrained by time. Along with my evolving journey of hope is a perception of my own history. How do we attest to our past in daily life? In this life of paradoxes and dualities, I find that I can know deep joy through having known profound sorrow. The more intensely I have known desolation, the more invigorating has been my consolation.
It is one thing to reflect about the journey and appreciate its offerings, but the cutting edge is to take right to that road. Thomas Merton pointed out the necessity of "getting to work, through the new things you’ve gotten hold of," and "don’t revert to daydreaming," as a substitute for deepening our experience of truth, with an openness to unexpected possibilities. We cannot armchair-travel a spiritual life; that would imply an evasion from really challenging what can cause us to stagnate, especially outdated ways to thinking. For me, it’s been abandoning outgrown inner attitudes. Clinging to problems that are long since lived through has been a roadblock thrown over the broadening paths of newness. After so many formative years of not only having to prove my worth with achievements, but also to catalogue them into some sort of monolithic stack of quantifying self-importance. That very aspect of my life’s development has become the starting point for a hopeful beginning of emptying illusions out of my self. In so doing, my wish is to give more space to receive others, and to grow in boldness and compassion, contentment and wisdom, and ultimately in authentic love. A well-invested endeavour, but surely as with any distance traveling- I’m not as exhaustively prepared as I’d like. But that’s the idea. That needn’t stop any of us from heading out the door and down the street. There is no doubt that I am on my way to continued new things, consciously not repeating avoidable detours. Finally, good prospects are balancing out the challenges, and all the gear-grinding of recent years has given way to smoother movement. The new stretch of road is meant to be taken, and I must be careful not to objectify the path; it is best not to mistake the means for the end. New ways are revealed for the purpose of navigation- and by intentionally taking to this path I know I will see the full spectrum ahead.