Jesus says, "Go to your private room and, when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in that secret place." Matthew 6:6
|San Sebastián, Spain|
To live a Christian life means to live in the world without being of it. It is in solitude that this inner freedom can grow, Jesus went to a lonely place to pray, that is, to grow in awareness that all the power He had was given to Him; that all the words He spoke came from His Father; and that all the works He did were really not His but the works of the One who had sent Him. In the lonely place Jesus was made free to fail.
A life without a lonely place, that is, a life without a quiet center, easily becomes destructive. When we cling to the results of our actions as our only way of self-identification, then we become possessive and defensive and tend to look at our fellow human beings more as enemies to be kept at a distance than as friends with whom we can share the gifts of life.
In solitude we can slowly unmask the illusion of our possessiveness and discover in the center of our own self that we are not what we can conquer, but what is given to us. In solitude we can listen to the voice of the One who spoke to us before we could speak a word, who healed us before we could make any gesture to help, who set us free long before we could free others, and who loved us long before we could give love to anyone. It is in this solitude that we discover that being is more important than having, and that we are worth more than the the result of our efforts. In solitude we discover that's our life is not a possession to be defended, but a gift to be shared. It's there where we recognize that the healing words we speak are not just our own, but are given to us; that the love we can express is part of a greater love; and that's the new life we bring forth is not a property to cling to, but a gift to be received. Henri Nouwen, Out of Solitude
And this morning I did a little backwards planning from Lisbon, Portugal. And we have a lot of six-hours-of-riding-a-day up ahead of us. And getting out the alberge door at seven and stopping before the four o'clock rains move in. That's My Plan.
Henri Nouwen reminds me that life is not something to be conquered. But rather it is something to be received. A big saying in Spain is that "Turistas manden; peregrinos agradecen." Tourists demand; pilgrims give thanks.
And we are told that earth is not our home, that we are strangers and wayfarers, but that does not mean we are tourists. But that is how I live my life a lot of the time, clutching my crumpled train schedule nervously in one hand, and peering at the posted menu so very carefully, ready to send back the runny eggs. And certainly overpacking. Just in case. One never knows.
OUR PILGRIMAGE PRAYER
Lord, You who called your servant Abraham out of the town of Ur and who watched over him during all his wanderings; You who guided the Jewish people through the desert in their journey to the Promised Land; You who guided the Holy Family on their passage to Egypt; we beseech You to watch over your servants, who for Your greater honor and glory, make a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostelo.
Be for us,
a companion on our journey
the guide on our intersections
the strengthening during fatigue
the fortress in danger
the resource on our itinerary
the shadow in our heat
the light in our darkness
the consolation during dejection
and the power of our intention
so that we under your guidance, safely and unhurt, may reach the end of our pilgrimage, and strengthened with gratitude and power, secure and filled with happiness, may return home to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel. We ask this through Christ our Lord, Amen
And most of all may You be a companion in my journey, filling my heart, my thoughts, my soul, and my spirit. For Your great honor and glory, Amen.