Rt Rev Christopher Foster, Bishop of Portsmouth, on our different journeysÂ
I wonder what was the longest journey you've ever taken?Â
Sometimes we likeÂ the journey to be fairly slow, such as taking a walk through the woods in the autumn.
Sometimes the same journey can feel long or short, depending on the kind of mood we're in. AndÂ two people on the same journey '“ perhaps a train or bus '“ might feel very differently about theÂ journey because of where they're coming from, and what awaits them at the other end.
One may beÂ excitedly travelling to meet a loved one; another may be anxiously travelling to hospital for anÂ operation.
So travel can feel very different for all sorts of reasons. So it's no wonder that people often speakÂ about life as a journey, because it can feel long and hard at one time, and full of promise andÂ excitement at another.Â
How we reflect on where we've been and what we think awaits us will makeÂ a difference to how we feel about the journey, and the kind of choices we make about the nextÂ steps.
Christians have often spoke about life as a journey in a spiritual sense, talking about pilgrimage.Â Pilgrims often make long or challenging journeys to places of particular spiritual significance, such asÂ Christians walking the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route in northern Spain, or Muslims makingÂ their pilgrimage to Mecca.
In such journeys, the significance of the destination changes the character ofÂ the journey, and can bring the motivation needed to follow a difficult route.
That's why those individual pilgrimages become for Christians a way of thinking about the whole ofÂ their lives. For Christians, our hope in God also shapes how we travelÂ through the present. Hope is the thingÂ that keeps us going, and while it doesn't mean that the journey will always be easy, it can change aÂ trudge into a path of possibility.
So perhaps today think about journeys you've taken, and what kinds of hopes and possibilities keepÂ you going through difficult paths.Â As we meet fellow travellers, let's learn what keeps themÂ going, and help those who are weary and in need of encouragement.