Robert Louis Stevenson once wrote that young children don’t recognise how blessed they are, because “to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive”. I suspect that thought is little comfort to those having to stand for the length of the train journey in a crammed carriage, or standing on a cold platform going to work and hearing that the seven thirty has been cancelled. Which is why I’m only prepared to quote what Stevenson said on a Saturday. And on this particular Saturday because it is the first on this year’s Lent journey.
We’ve got used to thinking of life as a journey, but it seems little more than a trite cliché. But an American scholar called Walter Brueggemann wrote; “It is a challenge to the dominant ideologies of our time, which yearn for settlement, security and placement”.
A friend of mine once showed me how real that was when he took me to a cottage where he had lived in a glen. From there, he and his family left for America. And he described locking the door of the empty cottage and driving away with one last look back, as like “a little death”.
Lent follows Jesus’ journey from the wilderness of Judaea to the Garden of Gethsemane. For all of us, our lives don’t just involve moving from house to house, but often from one certainty to its opposite, from a deeply held conviction to its later rejection, from security to insecurity and back again. Which is why I take considerable comfort as well as challenge from the Christian belief that God is on the move, and always away ahead of us.
Restful God, be with us in our restlessness; restless God, provoke our complacency to follow you. Amen.