Thursday, April 9, 2015

My Changing Road

The disciples walking to Emmaus were prevented from recognizing Christ by their own eyes. I know what that’s like.

Since November I have been walking toward Montreal in my mind—planning a 400-mile pilgrimage to begin May 1. On the way, I have had a number of surprising experiences and encounters, the meaning of which nearly escaped me.

I began participating in the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises before Thanksgiving. The 22-week course for lay people ends in late April.

Over the holidays, I was counseled by a spiritual director to apply for a master’s program in ministry, and I did so. Awaiting acceptance, I am hoping to begin classes as early as June.

The unexpected path of my own memoir—fictionalized on my blog in January–February instead of published on paper—led me to reconsider the direction of my writing. I began prospecting for memoir clients and now have one in hand with a second in the offing.

And then quite unexpectedly, about eight weeks ago, I was offered an opportunity to teach an adult ed course on memoir: “Reading Others, Writing Yours.” I realized that this would take a lot of preparation.

While these developments were occurring I kept “walking” toward Montreal as though my pilgrimage were divinely ordained.

Then, about ten days ago, having already withdrawn from the fray on Facebook and Twitter, I quietly told myself that I did not want to blog about my walk to Montreal, as I had when walking the Camino in 2012. Basically, I realized that I did not want to turn a pilgrimage into performance art by publicizing it.

That was the pin that popped the balloon. To shift metaphors wildly, that was when I invited Christ to dinner. Within a few days, I told my wife at the dinner table, “You know, I’m thinking about postponing my pilgrimage.” Telling her this, I knew that I had already moved from thinking about it to doing it.

Two days later, I told a dear church friend that I was thinking of not going to Montreal just now. She beamed and said that she had been praying for me to postpone.

That. in short, is how I decided to stay home in May instead of heading north alone. Christ may be there—along the Merrimack River, up through the Notch and the Northeast Kingdom, in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, and certainly at the Oratory of St. Joseph. I’m sure He is.

But He is certainly here as well, right here. As Paul Newman said—and here’s one more wild shift of metaphor—“Why go out for hamburger, when you have steak at home?”

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