Saturday, 9 July 2016

Daily Bread for the Daily Journey

Every morning we step out into the world uncertain of what the day will bring. Yes we make our plans and designs and have our own ideas about what will be. Sometimes things work out exactly as we expect, but often they do not. Sometimes they work out far better than we could have dreamed of, but at other times they do not. We cannot predict life and I do not believe that it is already pre-ordained. I believe that the book of life always remains open. I do not believe that God has pre-ordained anything. I do believe in the Lure of Divine Love, but that this is not controlled by some primal centre, but hey I could well be wrong. I do believe that this Love speaks to us in and through life, as well as in and through us. This is why I believe that everything matters. Life feeds us and we feed life. We are all a part of the Great Co-Creation. This is why it matters how we journey on in life. This is why it is so important that we keep on stepping out into the world, on this continuous journey, experience all that life offers to us in all its blessings and curses. Always remembering that we do not journey alone.

Many people describe life as a journey that moves from one stage to another, sometimes full of joy and sometimes full of fear. Like the seasons life is forever changing. My life has taken me to different stages and I have journeyed with a rich variety of people. Some have been there from the very beginning, some have joined and stayed and others I have travelled with for only a short time. They have all touched and blessed my life in deep, rich and meaningful ways and I hope I have blessed theirs likewise.

Much has changed these last twelve months and these changes seem to be increasing in pace as the days go by. Yes there are the obvious physical changes, but those are just the ones on the surface. There are many other changes, unseen, that have been occurring deep within me. One thing I know for certain is that I am not done with my changes and life certainly isn’t done with changing me. I have never felt more fed by life, nor do I feel I have fed life more positively at any other stage of my life. I have never felt more alive and I want to share this aliveness with everyone.

How do I know this? You may well ask. Well because I feel that I know myself now better than I ever have before. Even these last few weeks’ deeper and newer truths have been revealed. The journey into who I truly am has gone deeper.

Now the inner journey is very much a spiritual journey. It is not really about physical travel, one of distance, it is more one of depth. This is captured beautifully in the following poem by Wendell Berry

"A Spiritual Journey"

And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles,
no matter how long,
but only by a spiritual journey,
a journey of one inch,
very arduous and humbling and joyful,
by which we arrive at the ground at our feet,
and learn to be at home.

by Wendell Berry

Now no doubt the Wendell Berry poem is inspired by the Christian mystic Meister Ekhart. It was he who claimed that the spiritual journey is not one of distance, that we do not so much travel on a physical pilgrimage from A to B to C to D etc, that the spiritual journey is some kind of linear progression in which we reach some goal, some new state of being way over there in some distant realm. No instead we discover new truths, understandings and experiences as we journey through life in a cyclical sense and that as we do so we move deeper into the core of our own being and find ourselves at home within ourselves.

John O’Donohue captured this beautifully when he wrote:

“Meister Eckhart radically revises the whole notion of spiritual programs. He says that there is no such thing as a spiritual journey. If a little shocking, this is refreshing. If there were a spiritual journey, it would be only a quarter inch long, though many miles deep. It would be a swerve into rhythm with your deeper nature and presence. The wisdom here is so consoling. You do not have to go away outside yourself to come into real conversation with your soul and with the mysteries of the spiritual world. The eternal is at home — within you.”

(John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: a Book of Celtic Wisdom)

Now strange as this may sound a life time’s journey can only be taken in one day. Did you know that the word journey is derived from the Latin word "diarnum" meaning daily portion from which the old French word "jornee" which meant a day’s work or a day's travel, is derived. I love this truth, it makes me smile broadly. Of course any spiritual journey can only be taken one day at a time and can only be achieved through taking our daily bread, feeding our spirit, and feeding life itself with our spirit. The key is of course to keep on going deeper and deeper feeding and being fed by and on the journey, while constantly being humbled and opened by the experience and thus feeding life.

Now while each of our journey’s are individual, they are not private. They are not taken alone nor in isolation. We are all a part of something far greater than ourselves. We are influenced by all that is around us, just as we influence all that we interact with. This of course begins with the people we share our lives with, those we journey with. We feed them and they feed us. We care for others and they care for us. Howard Thurman captured this rather beautifully in what follows. The Reverend Howard Thurman, was a theologian, minister, a Baptist with heavy Quaker leanings, Dean of Theology and Chaplain at both Howard and Boston Colleges, and the co founder, with Dr. Albert Fisk, in 1944, of “The Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples”. America’s first fully multicultural church. Thurman wrote:

“Every person wants to be cared for, to be sustained by the assurance that we share in the watchful and thoughtful attention of others—not merely or necessarily others in general but others in particular. We want to know that—however vast and impersonal all life about us may seem, however hard may be the stretch of road on which we are journeying—we are not alone, but are the object of another's concern and caring; we want to know this in an awareness sufficient to hold us against ultimate fear and panic. It is precisely at this point of awareness that life becomes personal and a person is free to ask and find answers to this question: What makes me come alive, and how can I share that aliveness with the world?”

Here Thurman captures how vital communal spirituality is to personal spiritual development and journeying. Spirituality cannot be truly expressed in isolation otherwise it just becomes self-centred and self-serving, thus stagnating personal growth. True spirituality needs community. It needs to feed and be fed by community. It kind of has to become religion, in its truest sense, to mature into all that it can be. I’m not talking about religious dogma here. I mean free religion, I mean coming together in love. I mean the idea that be bind together in fellowship. A living, breathing, fellowship of love. A community of loving support and understanding who journey together hand in hand.

It’s about more than just fulfilling our own personal needs. It’s about building something more. Not just for ourselves but for the good of all, for we all depend upon it. That though is not to say that the individual journey does not matter. Of course it does. It is about the individual becoming all that they can be within community with others. It’s about, as Thurman says the individual coming alive and sharing this aliveness with life. In so doing we inspire others to be all that they can be. In so doing they then inspire us to become even more than we could even dream of becoming.

This to me is what it means to build the kin-dom of love right here, right now. Yes this kin-dom is already here, right here right now if we would just let it come to life. It is there within each and every one of us. Our task is to let it come to life and to share it with our brothers and sisters and thus inspire them to do likewise. In so doing they will too inspire us to become even more than we could even begin to dream of.

Life is a journey, a journey we are engaged in even if we are not fully aware of it at the time. Yes ok, it’s not really a journey that goes anywhere. Even when it ends all that we are really doing is returning to the beginning. Yes changed by the experience in some way, but still the essence remains. What matters is how we travel, we can always go first class; what matters the most is the journey that we travel today. What our days’ work is today, remember that is what journey really means, today's work. Our day’s work today, is how we feed life and to do our day’s work, our journey, to our best ability depends on how we feed ourselves and how we feed life. It matters you know, it really does.

So how are you going to journey today? What is your day’s work today? How will you allow life and those around you to feed you today? And just as importantly how will you feed life today, in all that you feel, all that you think, all that you say and all that you do?

It matters you know, it really does…

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