"Journey" is an important theme in religious life. The followers of Jesus called themselves followers of The Way. Jesus called himself The Way in the Gospel of John. We have a vast tradition of pilgrimage in fact and literature - from the fourth century diary of Egeria, a pilgrim to the Holy Land during Holy Week, to the fourteenth century Canterbury Tales, stories written by Geoffrey Chaucer about English pilgrims journeying to Thomas Becket's shrine at Canterbury, to modern day youth pilgrimages that are an integral part of the spiritual exploration in the Journey to Adulthood curriculum in the Episcopal Church. There are other, less admirable pilgrimage/journey events, too, including the Crusades. And of course in that other great religious tradition, sports, there is also the theme of journey, on-the-road-to, which is ubiquitous in the sporting world. This spring, NCAA basketball teams will be on the road to Indianapolis. During the Olympics special coverage traces various athletes' journey to the Gold (medal). There was last month the Road to the Superbowl as well.
Many of us characterize our spiritual life as a journey and ourselves as pilgrims, seeking God, seeking the Holy, seeking, seeking. We call ourselves seekers. We find ourselves on The Way. Life is a journey; life in God is a journey; life together as a parish is a journey. Priest and people journey together. And now we find ourselves on the journey of Lent.
What do we hope to find? Is the journey the thing, or is there a destination we have in mind? (Was Jesus "On the Road to the Cross?") Now that we have begun Lent, do we know where we want to go or do we want to just notice the scenery as we pass by on our liturgical journey? How will we mark the time? How will we pass the time? Will we be action oriented, or will we be learning on our feet a la the disciples, or will we tell one another stories like the Canterbury pilgrims?
I honestly don't know what I have in mind for the Lenten journey this year, other than to discipline myself to pray and reflect regularly and to be intentional about prayer and reflection that is oriented toward listening for where/what God is calling me toward. For me, this year, I think that is enough. I know enough about spiritual journeying to realize that all sorts of other things will happen as I am on this journey, if I have the eyes to see and the ears to hear. For me, the journey as outlined by the church's tradition is enough. I can be a follower of The Way, a Lenten pilgrim, and allow myself to be formed by the liturgy and the music and the songs we sing and the lack of alleluias and flowers. I am grateful that we have such a rich tradition. I am grateful for my formation. I am grateful that we have this time to ponder, to listen, to notice and live into the fast that will, as it always does, become the feast.