I reference fantasy and science fiction a lot, whether it is in blog posts or in daily life, if you have ever spent more than five minutes with me you know that I am going to talk about geeky stuff. Experiencing worlds through a different set of eyes is a fantastic endeavor and one of my favorite worlds has to be J.R.R. Tolkien’s the Lord of the Rings. There is an old poem from the Fellowship of the Ring that I absolutely adore, I am pretty sure that I referenced it on an earlier blog but here it is from the author himself. If you don’t want to watch the video here are the lyrics (but seriously watch the video its only 20 seconds):
- The Road goes ever on and on
- Down from the door where it began.
- Now far ahead the Road has gone,
- And I must follow, if I can,
- Pursuing it with eager feet,
- Until it joins some larger way
- Where many paths and errands meet.
- And whither then? I cannot say.
The reason I bring up this poem and this fantastic author is because I think that it speaks directly into a topic that has been on my mind this last month. I want to discuss with you several spiritual practices that I find valuable for my own life. One of the most critical parts of this is to have the right mindset. If I am going to study, I have to assume the mindset of a student (so stay off of Facebook). If I am going to train for the Olympics I have to assume the mindset of an athlete (saying no to coffee and yes to water…I’m not an athlete). So let me ask you, what is your mindset when it comes to this life that you live? I am a Christian and as such I follow Christ. For the longest time, I thought of following Christ as a battle: a war that if I ever gave any ground to sin, to the culture, or anything that the church deemed sinful than I was automatically on the outskirts. I had to earn my way back into God’s and the Church’s good favor. I know that some of you who read this feel the same way, maybe we have been beaten by the church or those who claim to speak for her? May I propose a different mindset that I think both the Bible and Church history back up? Let’s take the position of a pilgrim.
I suppose a definition of terms is in order. Pilgrims are wanderers, vagabonds, explorers, but for our discussion let us suffice to say that they are ones who travel with the purpose of seeking God. Sometimes they have a destination, other times they go teaching, preaching and serving the poor, and then there are those who wander for the purpose of seeking God in the journey. When I read the story of Christ, I see one who went off by himself to pray, one who walked throughout the hills, ministered to the poor…in short I see a pilgrim. Quite frankly, to see Christ is to see the outcast. We pride ourselves (I am including myself in this, I am not going to hold you to a standard that I won’t hold myself to) in the fact that we are so like Christ and we are doing all of these holy things for God. But are we really like him? If I may propose a step in the right direction, let’s assume the position of a pilgrim.
One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the Road to Emmaus. Anyway, as they walked along the road they were joined by a strange figure who apparently knew absolutely nothing about current events (for a modern example it would be comparable to not knowing that the Cubs had won the world series). As they walk, the figure does not immediately reveal himself as Christ (spoilers I know, read the book it has been out for a couple of thousand years now); instead, he teaches them as they walk together. They spend the entire day walking on the path to Emmaus and he doesn’t reveal himself until they sit to have dinner together. That is not a lesson that will soon be forgotten.
So now I have another question and don’t worry it is the last one: When was the last time you made a pilgrimage? No I am not talking about the last time you went to Jerusalem, Rome, or to a monastery. When was the last time that as you walked to your work, to your home, or even around the block that you took the time to breathe in the beauty around you? Here is my challenge to you and to myself for the upcoming week. I want you to go outside and to walk, even if it is only down the street and back, I want you to walk. No headphones, no friends to walk with you (at least the first time), no distractions. Take in the beauty around you and let your steps be a prayer as you go. Look at the trees, listen to the birds, hear the wind, and look for the beauty that God has placed all around us. Beauty is not hard to find, I’d be willing to bet that it is right in front of you. Take the mindset of one who sees God in every aspect of life. I think that on the list of spiritual practices, learning to walk with God is easily one of the most important.
Let me know how your walks go! Next time we will be discussing Advent, which we started to celebrate today. I am so excited to dive into this new topic. If you are interested in Christianity as a pilgrim I heavily recommend the Road to Emmaus book which there will be a link to below. A lot of my material and ideas came from this book.
I want to end with a quote from Mother Teresa, “We cannot find God in noise or agitation. Nature: trees, flowers, and grass grow in silence. The stars, the moon, and the sun move in silence.” Enjoy it friends!