Friday, May 16, 2003

The Journey

Thomas Merton wrote that faith means action. We do not understand God and then commit ourselves in faith to Him, we make the commit first, then we act. He writes:

"We do not see first, then act, we act then see. It is only by the free submission of our judgment in dark faith that we can advance in the light of understanding: credo ut intelligam. And that is why the man who waits to see clearly, before he will believe, never starts on the journey."

In the New Testament blindness is taken as a symbol for lack of faith. The blind man is never able to see and thus never able to undertake the journey which we must all make in the solitude of our souls. He cannot commit to any journey because he cannot see the road ahead. Those who can see, while not knowing where the road will lead them, nevertheless can see the road itself and take the first steps along it.

Seldom do we know where the road will lead. It is as if we begin our journey on a dark, moonless night, seeing its outlines only dimly, as if by nothing more than candlelight. We undertake the journey in faith, not knowing but trusting.

It is only as we progress on the journey that dawn begins to break in the light of faith. We must all, each of us in his own way, make the initial commitment, and take the first step, on the journey of faith. Then understanding comes.

I think we are called, once we have begun the journey, to keep moving on the road. That is the most difficult part. There are many crossroads. Often times, having chosen a particular path on the journey, it is only in looking back that I understand how God was leading me, giving me directions and sustenance on the journey. Sometimes it seemed that the path I chose lead to great difficulty and trial, but looking back I was able to see from the "map" of my life, that God was working then to make the rest of the journey more fruitful, leading me closer to the final goal.

It is clear to me that faith involves commitment which means that it is not, as popularly believed today, an emotional balm or a crutch for those unable to face the reality of life. It is not an escape because it must affect the very depths of our being; otherwise undertaking the journey can never be done. Moving out, changing the focus of our lives, is not something that anyone would do only as an escape. Beginning the journey itself means throwing away the crutches, standing up and taking the first step on the journey of a lifetime.

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