I’ve been packing my bags this morning for a quick trip out west for my niece’s wedding. Medicines, underwear, nice dress, t-shirts… oh, and don’t forget the swimsuit for the hotel pool. (I once took the top, but not the bottom of my two piece swimsuit. I now pack both the original and the one I bought during that trip and I check at least three times to make sure I have both halves.)
I love journeys. I can get excited by a trip to the grocery store. I have traveled to many places already and look forward to many more trips to come.
And it is not only the physical journeys. The heavy burden I have been carrying has been that I am leaving a job I love for a chance to do something I may love even more. I am devoting more time to my spiritual direction and retreat business, working to build it into a full-time ministry. This is a journey I realized that God has been calling me to for a while now, and I am very much looking forward to the challenge and the opportunity.
But going on a journey also means leaving some things behind. For our trip to Nevada, we can’t bring our dog. We’re flying, so I have lots of “stuff” that I cannot pack. And there are friends and parties and play dates that I will miss while I am away.
This is true for our spiritual journeys as well. You may have been told we have much “junk” to clear out of our lives if we want to draw closer to God. And that is very true. (Sounds like a good thing to post on one of these days.) But in addition to the junk, there are also good things, even great things that we will need to leave behind if we choose to follow when we are called. Jesus talks about leaving family, which may be the most drastic loss. But there is also leaving all the “stuff” we cannot pack, like the rich man who wants the eternal life that Jesus offers, but turns away when asked to give up his wealth.
And even if we aren’t called to give up everything completely, there are good things we will miss when we head out on our spiritual journey: time with friends, parties, “play dates” – even work we love and requests for our time and talents to which we suddenly have to say no. Going on a journey is one of my favorite things to do, but it is also complex. It requires commitment and a focus on moving forward, not looking back. I may not know where the journey will lead, but I know that even if I just end up on a return flight home, things will be different. I will be different.
Do you like to travel? Does the idea of a spiritual journey excite you? Terrify you? Both and more? Can you look back and see some of the journeys you have been on? What have you missed? What did you forget to pack that might have been useful? Is there a journey you are currently being called to?
The name spiritual director can be a misnomer sometimes. Those of us in this ministry generally don’t “direct” as much as we companion people on their journeys. Trips can be much more fun if they are shared with someone; if you have someone you can turn to with a question or an observation or just share a moment of awe and wonder. If you are looking for a companion on your spiritual journey, consider finding a spiritual director. Look at www.sdiworld.org for someone in your area, or touch base with me at Openings: Let the Spirit In for a free in-person or online session to learn more.
(So, one other thing you might have to give up on a journey is good internet access — sorry this is so late — I had to wait until I returned home!)