Some journeys are defined by their destination – they are taken with one aim in mind, to get there.
But such a view can be really short-sighted. If everything is measured by the end game – what joy is there to be found in the journey itself? What’s more we short circuit the process that the journey is meant to teach us which in truth is where characters are formed and forged.
Take Mary and Joseph for example. After the visit of the Magi and the agitation of King Herod’s jealousy they are warned in the dream to flee. ‘When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt.’ I’m sure that fleeing to Egypt was the last thing they wanted to do with a small child in their care – but the journey needed to be taken. It needed to be taken to protect the child – and all the child represented.
Journeys matter for lots of reasons. Here’s a few that come to mind.
- Journeys matter because they take us to where we need to be.
- Journeys matter because they can take us out of the danger of a current situation
- Journeys matter because they help us process what is going on in our life
- Journeys matter because they form character and capacity.
Some people never change. Things change around them but they stay the same. Same conversations; same perspectives; the same old and tired arguments. There is something quite dull about someone who views the world as if it was till 1975 don’t you think? Where’s creativity, the imagination – the passion? Where’s the drive to engage with a world that is ever evolving and changing?
The problem? They’ve never taken the journey.
And here’s the thing. Change doesn’t happen inside a vacuum, it happens in the process of a thousand small decisions, each made as we navigate our way from where we are to where we need to be. On the journey we morph into a new version of ourselves – and dependant on how we make those decisions determines the people we become. Bitter or better; brittle or broken; beaten or newly born.
There is a sadness about a person who has rejected the journey. A sense of loss as to what might have been – of the new horizons gained leading to new perspectives and possibilities.
I’m a great believer in the need to take the journey – and what’s more the Bible is on my side in thinking this way. Abraham, Moses, David, the prophets – to cite just the Old Testament is proof enough of its value. I’m not sure how you view the past year – or how you will approach the coming one, but whatever that means for each of us may we embrace the journey and the mystery and joy it offers.
– Stephen Hackney