My friend Kristin had a crappy year.
She went through a heart-wrenching divorce while conquering graduate school-- those two things alone should merit some sort of medal somewhere. At any rate, we were walking one of those roads together-- graduate school-- and able to share the pain of the other as we walked. She's simply one of the finest people I have ever known-- my life is richer because she is in it.
Right now, she is on pilgrimage, and I'm kicking myself for forgetting to give her a few things for the road-- I was sick with bronchitis when she left a couple of weeks ago. But imagine (or don't just imagine-- a link to her blog is right there on the right of this page: "My crazy Kristin's Personal Odyssey")-- she is hiking an ancient trail to a sacred place (the where and what are important, but it's not what I'm thinking about right now). An ancient path to a sacred place.
The Lord has been dealing with my heart and I realize that I need to put my feet on the ancient path again. Have I walked away? No-- I love my God with all that is within me, but it seems that my ardor has cooled... it happens, right? But I lived so many years with this white-hot intensity, any cooling feels like an Ice Age and I feel myself slipping.... Unbelief is not as dramatic as it was when I was crying out to God to do anything-- strike me with lightning, make that tree fall over, blow the sky up with meteorites-- on the hillside in Cimarron, Colorado, just SHOW YOURSELF TO ME. I almost miss the kind of passion that that deep, terrifying unbelief used to stir in me. Like the woman who was not letting go-- she was going to get to the hem of that Man's garment, I was determined to g e t G o d.
But as I age, things are often not so dramatic. I just get...hm... sleepy. Weary. Tired. Forgetful.
Then Sunday morning happens.
This past week, the Lord has been dealing with me, and I feel like my heart has just rushed out into a clearing and is spinning wildly like that image of Julie Andrews in that opening shot of The Sound of Music. He's speaking to me of holiness, speaking to me of obedience and faithfulness, whispering to me about His nature and how I'll only go deeper with Him if I dive into His word once more. The things that sustained me in my "study years" are not enough for the road I am on today.
Maybe that's what I would have told Kristin before her trip. I wanted to give her a little Bible. Something by Brennan Manning (he's just always good for pilgrimages). But instead, I will pray that the Holy Spirit will sustain her steps, strengthening her feet and her back, and that she will sense Him intensely.
And me? I will be a pilgrim here, in my heart, in my land (wishing, of course, that I was pilgriming in Europe)-- I must remind myself that it's not necessary to have a tragedy or crisis to play host to my pilgrimage: simply follow Him, seeking Him with every painful footfall, silencing the world around me and looking at those around me as fellow odd-balls seeking shelter in ancient monastaries and abandoned vineyards. We're all on pilgrimage, whether we know it or not. Because He said that we were born with eternity set in our hearts-- we spend our lives searching for it.
It's my prayer for Kristin, and my prayer for all of us.