I recently returned home after a long weekend excursion out of town. It was one of those trips with a stress-inducing flight cancellation on the way out of town that in retrospect turned out to be nothing more than a minor inconvenience but was unsettling in the moment. For me, there is something that is peculiarly exciting and at the same time calming in making that first leg of a trip and arriving at one’s destination.
But even as one arrives there is plenty to assess and figure out. What are we going to do? Where are we going to eat? How late are we going to sleep in? Or are we going to get up early and get at it? What is the rhythm of our trip going to be? How might we best find that sweet spot of activity and relaxation?
Finding that sweet spot and rhythm in our spiritual journeys can be challenging. Just like out-of-town air travel, our spiritual journeys may be marked by fits and starts outside of our control. Our spiritual journeys may be planned out well in advance like a vacation, or they may be prompted by an emergency or life-changing events that necessitate that we move forward.
No matter what prompts us to move forward on a spiritual journey, finding a rhythm for what lies ahead is vital. You may find yourself at the start of such a journey right now. Perhaps you’re planning as you look ahead to a holiday or religious season that is approaching. Or maybe you are departing on this journey as the result of a death, a fracturing of relationship or a courageous confrontation with addiction. Maybe you’re excitedly entering into a new chapter of life and feel like you’re walking on the clouds.
Whatever your travel situation is, these three markers along the way will help you find a travel rhythm.
Up: Begin with prayer. Every spiritual journey is marked by God’s presence, especially in those times when God seems egregiously absent. God is in the middle of it all. Start the journey with that given even if you’re not even sure there is a God.
In: This journey is uniquely yours and will require you to travel inward. Reflect. Wrestle. Reimagine. Repeat. At the end of the journey lies a different you that is actually more clearly you.
Out: Every good journey includes stories that need to be shared and told along the way and as one travels. Look for them. Share them. Live them.
Along the way there may be periods of more up than out or more in than up. That’s more than okay, it is how it should be. The path of spiritual growth is not linear and even but rather looping and reverberating. It finds us back at places we have been time and again while at the same time seeing them anew. Allow the journey to emerge and take on it’s own life with you in dialogue with God, reflecting on your own life, and sharing your story along the way.