Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Journey

“And he sent them to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal [the sick]. He said to them, ‘Take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, and let no one take a second tunic.’” Luke 9: 2-3

Have you ever been on a journey? Perhaps it was a road trip, or you flew to another country. Maybe you did a hike or visited a new place. I remember when my wife and I moved from New Mexico to Pennsylvania almost 17 years ago. We were pregnant with our first-born and we packed all of our junk into the largest U-haul truck we could get. Then we rented a full car trailer and put our little brand new Geo Metro on it and pulled it across the country behind us. My wife had meticulously planned out the trip day-by-day with KOA campground stops each night along the way (with “pull-through” camp sites so I wouldn’t have to back-up the truck and trailer). We were young, in love, had little money and hit the road with optimism. And the very first day only hours into our trip, as we attempted to cross over the mountains of eastern New Mexico, the truck overheated and we had to pull over. This was before everyone had cell phones and we were stuck in the mountains in the middle of nowhere. We kept trying to restart the truck with no success, hoping a car would pass by. But no one passed us by. We prayed a LOT (and I am sure I got angry and yelled some too). Eventually the truck cooled down enough to start and we made our way down the mountains. But by this time we had lost so much time there was no way we were going to get to our first planned KOA campground. So we had to switch plans, stop at a hotel and go extra hard and long the next day to make-up for lost time. Eventually, after many days and other stops, some good and some not so good, we made it to Pennsylvania. I’m sure many of you have similar stories. This reminds me of Lent.

Lent is a journey, not an event. But many times I think we forget this. We start off with all of our plans set: what were’ giving up (chocolate, facebook, coffee, etc.), what we’re going to do more of (pray, go to daily Mass, be in silence), what relationships we are going to heal, what sins we need to confess, etc., etc., etc. And then by the first Saturday after Ash Wednesday we have often failed so miserably at our goals that we admit defeat and just give up. Or maybe we scale back our plans to more reasonable levels of success. But Lent is a journey and on any journey there will be set-backs, problems, failures, delays, triumphs, and unexpected surprises.

Lent is a time to remind us, like any pilgrimage we go on, that LIFE is a journey, too. Some days we will do well and others we won’t do so well. We will encounter sickness, injuries, and unexpected surprises along the way. We will encounter people that cheer us up or send us spiraling. We will do great things for the Lord and we will sin like we’ve never sinned before. We will ride high and we will crawl on the ground—and some days we won’t even be able to get out of bed. But life is a journey and we ALWAYS have the next day! We always have the love of the Lord for us! We always have His unending mercy!

So this Lent be not afraid to set your spiritual goals high, but do not get discouraged when you don’t always succeed. And if you are failing miserably by this coming Saturday, start over again on Sunday. Jesus has already done this journey and shown us the Way. All we need to do is pick-up our own crosses and follow Him.

Dear Jesus, give me the grace and desire to follow You more closely this Lent. Allow me to see this journey as a pilgrimage and example of my life’s journey. And when I fall, help me to get back up as You did, with my eyes ever on the prize. Amen.

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