O how far I have to go to find you in whom I have already arrived
Updated: Sep 8, 2020
There is an ancient story, perhaps told by desert mothers and father, of a young man seeking treasure. He has heard rumours of where this treasure is to be found so he travels across days and months and years to find this place. When he gets there a wise teacher then describes the place where the treasure sits. It’s is back at the hearth of his own fireplace!
The story is a cameo of human life. Can we learn to enjoy just being? The spiritual truth is, that when we come to enjoy just being, being who we are - with all our frailties - we will also enjoy the journeying much more.
Is this something we are being led to learn again these COVID times? Though I know these are not pleasant times for many. Yet the truth remains: What wisdom about being will we learn from this journey?
This reminds me of my own experience of travel. As a child I hated long car trips along hot and winding roads, especially from Young to Sydney. It was the destination we wanted! My children and grandchildren are no different. The roads have improved and so has the air-conditioning – in my day it was the open window (luxury!).
Games and distractions always helped. No iPads, but my mother had us playing BP Spotto (who remembers that?), or we’d be looking for the ‘robbers’ hiding behind the ant hills when approaching Lithgow!
Now I confess, I have come to enjoy travel, the experience itself – for a while anyway! We love the scenery, finding picturesque landscapes and new places to visit along the way. But on the whole, we prefer train travel. It’s not so much the destination (though that is a great attraction!), as the train journey itself. In great part now it is because Pene and I love being together, but it is also because I have learnt to be more than was once possible. I’ve been listening to some podcasts drawing on the writing of Thomas Merton (thanks Bruce!), the twentieth century American Trappist monk, writer, theologian, mystic, poet, social activist, and scholar of comparative religion. In one text he wrote the following.
We cannot arrive at the perfect position of God in this life. That is why we are travelling and in darkness. But we already possess him by grace and therefore and in that sense, we have arrived and are dwelling in the light. But O how far I have to go to find you in whom I have already arrived.
This reminds of that beautiful Psalm 139:
Oh lord you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up. Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? For it was you who formed my inward parts; you nit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Ps 139: 1,2,7,13.)