Who does not like to go on a journey? Literature, fiction, travel and biography include stories of journeys. Pilgrim’s Progress is John Bunyan’s classic story of the Christian disciple’s spiritual journey. For Jeremiah his life’s began in the mind of God (Jer.1:5) ‘Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you’(TM). That could be written on our birth certificate for it is where our life journey began also. It is collective journey.
Judy Cannato in her book “Radical Amazement”, explores the intricate connectedness between the new cosmology and the biblical account of creation. The energy that created the Big Bang is in us. The substances present in the universe are found in us. We are connected to the universe and share a journey with all creation. Evolution refers to the journey of life species. The sixteenth century theologian Ignatius Loyola wrote, ‘Consider that God your benefactor, is present in all creatures and in yourself. If you look at every step of the visible creation in all you will find God’. God’s presence is in all creation and therefore in us permeating every movement of our lives, therefore we are not alone, but part of an ongoing creation that began with God the Source of life. Think about that for a moment.
Our human development has resulted in a complex, tripartite creature. We are to love God with all our soul, mind and strength. Let’s consider these aspects of our being and reflect on each one. First, our physical journey, our strength, or body. The formation of our body from sperm to baby within the confines of the womb is itself a miraculous process of cell division. Then reflect on the body’s development after birth through childhood, puberty, adolescence to adulthood taking into consideration its astonishing capabilities in endurance, physical feats, maturity and then decline. Look at any part of your body, with a sense of wonder. St. Paul regarded the body as a temple reminding the Corinthians, ‘You realize, don’t you, that you are the temple of God, and God himself is present in you. No one will get by with vandalizing God’s temple, you can be sure of that. God’s temple is sacred – and you, remember, are the temple (1 Cor.3:16). We will not get by with vandalizing the earth without destroying our temple.
Now we can turn to the mind’s journey and our consciousness. We begin with elementary A,B,C. in spelling, and phonetics, repeating sounds and learning to speak. The education of the mind covers every single aspect of our daily exposure and activity with others. We use our schools and universities to take the mind on a learning adventure from observation to analyzing, investigating and understanding taking us from incompetence to the most advanced skills; from ignorance to knowledge then, hopefully, to wisdom. Reflect on what your mind has learned, or been awakened to through instruction, reading and experience, especially grief and suffering. Life itself becomes our teacher of knowledge, truth and wisdom. You may not realize it, or be able to put it into words, but you do have a theology of God shaped by the information you have received and your response to life’s deepest questions.
What then of our spiritual journey? This is an inward journey to wholeness, to discover our True selves, to a realization of our dependence on others and our need to care for them, and to a recognition of God’s presence in and provision for, every aspect of our journey. Embedded in our DNA is our ability to respond to the divine invitation ‘Come unto me’. Deep within our heart, our inner being, are longings and the glimmering recognition there is something more beyond us. We use the word God, but no matter what name we use, when our consciousness is awakened we are able to respond to beauty and holiness lifting us to a sense of a sacred ‘presence’ in the world.
In this journey we make critical choices which shape our character, determine our destiny and affect our relationships with the world and with others. We are given no map and there is no automatic GPS for this journey, our will and freedom is not overridden, but we can learn to listen to God and respond to his Spirit’s prompting. We are given an ethical compass in scripture on which way is best. ‘I place before you Life and Death, Blessing and Curse….choose life…and love God, listening obediently to him….he is life itself’ (Deut. 30:19). We are also given a guide, Jesus, who said ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life’, ‘Follow me’. As a pilgrim we have chosen, through him, to move toward a connectedness with God which enriches this life with freedom, peace, justice and love. In this way, as Jesus taught, we become ‘sparks of God’, light bearers, ‘You are the light of the world’. Ask yourself what have I learnt about light bearing on this journey? What light am I shining for others?