Saturday, July 14, 2012



I always enjoy re-reading my travel journal from my sabbatical journey of 18 years ago. Because I was traveling alone I had time to record a lot of vivid impressions both visual and emotional right on the spot; these images fill two notebooks and several photo albums. I especially love reading about July, when I visited Rome, Monte Cassino, Paris, Strasbourg, and Konstanz in the Alps. 
This journal has come to mean more and more to me over the years as a way of reminding myself of how God watched over me and gave me all of these great experiences in those beautiful places where I met such interesting people.

Well, this Thursday I began rereading Prayer is a Hunger by Edward J. Farrell (1972, Dimension Books), and soon came upon this paragraph:

One barrier to real prayer is a lack of courage, a lack of perseverance. Why do we often choose so low a ceiling? There is nothing sadder than to “settle” in one place; to build walls, to travel no longer on the Abrahamic journey. It is perilously easy for us to be no longer on our way to Jerusalem. Yet we must go on this journey. (pp. 18-19)


Well, have you ever gotten socked in the jaw by a sentence in a book? The punch caught me with my guard completely down. "It is perilously easy for us to be no longer on our way to Jerusalem." I had no nicely phrased excuses, no rationalizations, no place to hide. I just sat there in my chair and glanced guiltily to my left, where my travel journal always sits. 

I heard the voice of the Lord asking me, “Why have you settled down and built comfortable walls? Don’t you want to continue on the journey? Or maybe you’re not sure that I’ll go with you this time.”

Wow! I hadn’t realized that I’d “settled down” quite that much, and was unaware that I’d retired so completely from walking the pilgrim road. The experience has opened my eyes to the exciting journey that I’m on right now, including a new novice to help and a new writing project. Now that the Lord’s gotten my attention, I hope that I’ll continue to keep moving along the road to Jerusalem. 


In the Prologue to his Rule for monks, St. Benedict encourages the potential follower with these words:

See how the Lord in his love shows us the way of life. Clothed then with faith and the performance of good works, let us set out on this way, with the gospel for our guide, that we may deserve to see him who calls us into his kingdom. (Rule of Benedict, Prolog 20-21)

My the Lord keep all of us on the right road!

French road lined with plane trees

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