After driving (or being driven) 2,800 miles, we have arrived. Alaska to Medford, Oregon, by way of Seattle and Bend. A new place to live, and and a new job. I just started as pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Medford.
I know that there is a joy in the journey, the journey IS the destination, and if you meet the Buddha or Justin Bieber on the road, just kill him, but the fact is, I like arriving. Oh, the journey was good, don’t get me wrong, but hell to me is a continual road trip, with no landing in sight. I said this once before; we travel for the same we hit ourselves in the head with a hammer. It just feels so good when we stop.
We get an exaggerated sense of travel when we just read about it. For example, we think of the Children of God wandering around the desert with Moses for forty years, as if they were on a 14,600 day march. But in fact during their “wandering” they didn’t move around all that much. They tended to stay put. (The Sinai is not that big. In forty years you would see most of it, ten times over.)
When Paul did his missionary journeys, he stayed put in the places he visited, often for a year or two.
Even Jack Kerouac of On the Road fame lived in a small fire lookout tower for long periods of time on Desolation Peak in the Cascades, and lived with his mother for much of his life. (His Catholicism was also a constant in his life, and even though he dallied with Buddhism, he never gave up his Catholic faith.)
My road trip down to Oregon was actually not all that impressive. It was not the longest trip I took, nor the hardest. The worst part of the drive was having really bad Chinese food in a desolate settlement in the Yukon Territory. The Redhead and I should have known better, and when the barbecue pork arrived, and it was grey, we knew we had made the fatal error of ordering exotic food in a very non-exotic place. But the weather held, we had no car trouble, and for the Redhead and I, it was the honeymoon we didn’t have. Twelve days on the road, just the two of us for most of it, and we made it to our destination safely.
And the arriving is good, and now we are settling down.
In my spiritual journey, there are times when I arrive, times when I get to a place where I can settle down for a bit. There are comfortable spiritual homes I constantly inhabit. I started praying the Daily Office in the Book of Common Prayer back in the 1990s, and I still pray through it on a daily basis today. It is landing place for me, and every morning when I pray it, I feel grounded in it. It is a home for me, a place I can land.
Arriving does not mean the same as quitting though. I arrived in Medford, but will I spend the rest of my life here? Am I done? I doubt that. I will most likely, at some point in the future, move on to something else. And while the Daily Office is a place where I have arrived, have I quit doing other things that help grow my spiritual life? No. I am always on the lookout for new ways to grow. I will probably always use the Book of Common Prayer for my daily prayers, but I will also use other things as well.
To connect back to my birthday, every year I get a year older. But I get to stay that age for a year. Imagine if we had to say that we were 56 years and eight days old, instead of just 56. I can live with 56 for a while. I can live with Medford for a while. And I can live with the Book of Common Prayer for a while. I can live very well with those things. I lived very well with Alaska for almost 18 years, with my former church for ten years, and I have lived with myself for 56 years.
The journey is good, but arriving and settling in is ever better.
Until it is time to move on, and arrive at a different place.