On a recent night as I lay awake in bed, a gentle stirring suggested I attempt to finally complete Thomas Merton’s, The Seven Storey Mountain. I say “finally” because it has not been an easy read for me. As I was walking the next morning, I thought about Merton and my interaction with his autobiography and realized that is how his journey to the Trappist monastery was—it was not easy. One of the beautiful things about Merton was his ongoing willingness to follow God’s promptings even when he did not necessarily consider himself a follower.
One of the final quotes that resonated with me (and there were many) appeared in the epilogue.
“In one sense we are always traveling, and traveling as if we did not know where we were going.
In another sense we have already arrived.
We cannot arrive at the perfect possession of God in this life, and that is why we are traveling and in darkness. But we already possess Him by grace, and therefore in that sense we have arrived and are dwelling in the light.”
The words ‘already’ and ‘not yet’ come to mind as I read this passage. The yin and the yang. Dark and light. I am reminded of a tapestry that is continually woven with the changing of texture and colors. It may not yet be finished, but it already tells a story. We are fully in Christ and we are nowhere near Him. The both/and. Already and not yet. We are on a pilgrimage with no specific end in mind for we cannot comprehend what the “end” will be like. AND, there is a deep knowing in our soul that speaks to the end even in the present moment.
In Praying with the Elements, Christine Paintner writes of the term: Peregrinatio. (Personally, I just love the sound of the word!) It refers to a journey initiated by an inner prompting, going where the Spirit leads to seek the place of your resurrection. Peregrinatio seems like the most apt word for Merton’s journey.
As I sit on my porch writing, I wonder about my life and how open I am to be on a journey without a specific destination in mind. It seems to be those moments that are the least planned that lead to the greatest surprise and joy. When I think of jumping into the lake with my young charges, I think of peregrinatio. It was not planned yet it felt like baptism. It was holy. It was resurrection.
I pray that I will be open to the subtle promptings in my life this day and every day to follow. Where are you being asked to step into Peregrinatio—the journey with no specific end or goal in mind? Where are you being asked to trust the mystery of life and experience the beauty and wildness of the unknown?
photos by geezer dude