One of the reasons I have loved backpacking over the years is the feel of the journey. I step into my hiking boots and step onto the trail. The sounds of my footfalls soon mix with the sighing wind and the chickadee calls. I am quickly enveloped by the colors and textures of the forest. The aliveness around me calls out an aliveness within me. Even now as I write this, I am thinking about my next backpacking adventure. Here I am going where I have not been. I am seeing what I have not seen. I am on a journey.
But the journey theme is not just for backpackers, sightseers, or adventurers. It's for all of us. In fact the greatest journey is not anything that we do physically. It is not traveling from place to place. It's something that happens inside of us. It's the journey of the soul.
Every man and woman is on this journey and feels it in some way. One of the surest things we know about this life is that our souls are traveling — from somewhere to somewhere. It happens when we see an old picture that surfaces a long-forgotten memory, reminding us of what we were like then. It happens when we go through a major life transition, requiring major shifting in our inner life. It happens during suffering when something new is etched into our souls through the pain. In all this, we realize that we are not what we once were.
As awareness grows that we are on a journey, the questions soon follow: What kind of journey am I on? Where am I going? How do I stay on the right path? And what does God have to do with this?
One of the things I love about my work in spiritual direction is that I get to sit with others who know they are on a journey and talk about it. To use the backpacking analogy, I function as someone who tends a campfire at night, where a weary traveler can rest and warm himself by the fire. Around that campfire, the conversation begins: Where are you on the journey? Are you moving? Are you stuck? Is there a fork in the path up ahead? As they articulate their souls, they feel unburdened and refreshed, ready for the next step of the journey.
Jesus calls out each man and woman on a soul journey with Him: "Come, follow Me." The sense of journey universally felt by the human race is now to be focused and oriented around Him. His call is to come and follow. He wants to take us somewhere on this journey, somewhere with Him. We are not left alone, wandering and lost. He wants to guide us and accompany us every step of the way. The One who loved others so fiercely and split open the prison doors of death — I can think of no better companion.
Take a moment and consider the journey of your soul: Where are you now? Where are you going? And how are you experiencing Jesus in your journey today? These are the questions that can open up a whole new continent of reality, one with the ever-attentive presence of the living Christ.
So put on those hiking boots today. Step onto the trail. And answer His call to follow.
Note: For the video companion to this post, go to https://youtu.be/wCeYdUVnVLM