Wednesday, September 24 Meteora Rest Day
I have to smile at myself for my post of last week when I wrote in a near panicked voice, “If I can’t stay connected, there is no purpose for this pilgrimage.” There is some truth to this. I originally conceived of this pilgrimage as part of a professional move. In recent years I have felt this nudge to find a new way to build a platform for my voice as the pulpit has lost the credibility of former years. That, in addition to the fact that my most authentic voice has often been more celebrated in the larger community than in the church, has pushed me toward finding new avenues for my professional work.
Nonetheless, I nearly panicked last week as connectivity issues left me feeling isolated and burdened with the thought that I had gone out on a limb for the community and the limb was weaker than I had predicted. But, the rising panic was associated with the fact that I believed this pilgrimage was more professional than personal.
That has changed this week. In fact, it might have been spurred on by the suggestion of many friends and posters. “Live in the moment,” they all seemed to chime in in unison. A former girlfriend who knows this pattern of mine well wanted to shake me into the present and remind me that this pilgrimage may be training for life upon my return. Remember I am returning to no job, the end of my savings and the termination of my health insurance shortly after my return. Life as pilgrimage!
The message began to break through and I began to ride with a sense that I, Brian, needed to get to Rumi as much as anyone I was writing for. I titled one post, “This is for You,” and then realized that this is just as much for me, if not more so, than any reader who is following my pilgrimage and living it vicariously.
I wrote it in my “Rumi and Ecclesiastes” post that one world began to slip away after doing hospice work. I began to appreciate that life has a rhythm that doesn’t perform according to our definitions of success. It’s not as simple as “You do this, that will happen.” Yet, even with my exposure to and reflection on the rhythms of life and death, holding on and letting go, laughter and tears, I was still falling into the same trap. I believed that if I could make it from Rome to Rumi and carry you all along with me, I would build that bridge from the narrowing world of pastoral ministry to some new form that could carry me in the years to come.
But, as I rode up the increasingly steep mountains and relished in the beauty and the goodness that lie before me it started to hit me. I don’t need to get anywhere. I don’t need to build any bridges to the future in order to be okay now. I am already here. I am already dearly held in the hands of a Presence that asks nothing more of me than to be faithful this day, this hour, and this pedal stroke.
Tomorrow will take care of itself. I may suffer. I may laugh. I may yearn. I may cry. I may feel alone. I may throw my hands up in celebration or frustration. But, in all of it, a spirit deeper than I can fathom will sustain me and hold me and love me. And that’s good enough for now.