Thursday, February 14, 2019

The journey within a journey

Life as a journey is a familiar and fundamental metaphor. And the Christian pilgrimage is a variation on that metaphor. But the familiarity of the metaphor may obscure the multiple dimensions of the metaphor. It operates on at least two levels. There's the individual level. Everyone is on a personal journey. Each life is a journey. It has a starting line, course, and finish line. 

But at another level, all of us are born into a journey. Born on the road. Like a caravan that left long before we were born. It will arrive at the final destination long after we die. We find ourselves born in the course an ongoing trek. We immediately take our place in the caravan. Many have gone before. Aging pilgrims tell us the old old story of the original embarkment. And they tell us where we're headed.

When we're born into the world, we have no idea what to expect. For all we know, the world might be unrecognizably different than it is. Think of science fiction and fantasy movies and novels about surreal worlds. Suppose you were parachuted into one of those mind-bending landscapes. That would be utterly disorienting. And even those are severely limited by the provincial, earthbound experience of the human authors. 

We must discover what reality is like. We don't know in advance. Try to remember what it's like to see the world through a baby's eyes. To be bathed in warm water by a loving mother. Or nursed. Or see a butterfly for the first time. 

After we get used to it, it's easier to take for granted, as if it had to be that way. But what if it hadn't been that way? What if we were born into a world far stranger or far worse? 

If we're lucky, we learn that reality had to have certain parameters. It couldn't be just any way. It had to have a God. 

However, we're confronted with competing narratives. The Biblical backstory and counter narratives–as well as rival narratives about the destination. Guides who misdirect us. 

In Hebrews 11 we see a journey within a journey. A procession of pilgrims on their way to the unseen country. Each has his own pilgrimage, from beginning to end. Then there's the overarching journey of the procession itself. That was written 2000 years ago. But the caravan continues, as we pick up where they left off. And we will hand it off to the next generation, when we reach the unseen country, one by one, while they retrace our steps. 

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful post. Thanks, Steve. :)

    I jotted down a quick thought about the secular atheist version of a journey here.