I wonder what was the longest journey you’ve ever taken?
Sometimes we like 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. And two people on the same journey – perhaps a train or bus – might feel very differently about the journey because of where they’re coming from, and what awaits them at the other end.
One may be excitedly travelling to meet a loved one; another may be anxiously travelling to hospital for an operation.
So travel can feel very different for all sorts of reasons. So it’s no wonder that people often speak about life as a journey, because it can feel long and hard at one time, and full of promise and excitement at another.
How we reflect on where we’ve been and what we think awaits us will make a difference to how we feel about the journey, and the kind of choices we make about the next steps.
Christians have often spoke about life as a journey in a spiritual sense, talking about pilgrimage. Pilgrims often make long or challenging journeys to places of particular spiritual significance, such as Christians walking the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route in northern Spain, or Muslims making their pilgrimage to Mecca.
In such journeys, the significance of the destination changes the character of 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 of their lives. For Christians, our hope in God also shapes how we travel through the present. Hope is the thing that keeps us going, and while it doesn’t mean that the journey will always be easy, it can change a trudge into a path of possibility.
So perhaps today think about journeys you’ve taken, and what kinds of hopes and possibilities keep you going through difficult paths. As we meet fellow travellers, let’s learn what keeps them going, and help those who are weary and in need of encouragement.