I decided to write my blog post today because I have taken on a the #AdventWord challenge. Each day in Advent a different hashtagged word is chosen to share on social media, either with words of wisdom, an image, devotions, inspirational quotes or anything that represents the word to them. It is only day two, so I guess a blog post about the word will work for today!
The word is #Journey. And there are a whole mess of cliches that use the word, and yet none of them fully encapsulate what it means to any given individual. For some the journey is exhausting, and grueling because it allows them to get to a destination and be at peace, or at least be comfortable. Others experience the journey as formative because it changes them along the way, and once again, gets them to an end point or completion. Others say that the destination doesn’t really matter, it is how you get there. But once again, “there” is a place, a location, a destination, an end point. But what if there isn’t truly an end point? What if when you get to where you think you are done, God puts another journey in your lap? What if God gives you something new to discover about yourself?
I think that’s is one of my favorite parts of serving in the Episcopal Service Corps away from where I was raised. I didn’t start with a network here when I arrived. I don’t have easy access to my family in order to tap into that support system. I don’t have the church that I grew up in to give me that foundation of strength to go out on a limb and take risks. But I do have my faith, and I do have strength in who I am.
I think separating myself from home is a big step in my personal journey to understand everything I am capable of. Being away from home has allowed me to examine who I am, and how I have grown and changed over my whole life. I have been able to understand what it means to live in a household of people who all grew up in such different ways and belief styles. We all are trying to understand who we are on our own, as well as understanding who we are in relation to each other. This is not an easy journey, but once again, it’s not something that is going to just settle and finally work. We live in a house of unknown variables that could change at any given moment. We can’t just sit around waiting for someone else to do the work, we all have to do it together. We were called to do this work and discern how we live in community. As well as being called to understand how our internal community of six is called to relate to the larger community of Baltimore.
As a larger church community, we are in Advent, waiting for the birth of the Christ child. Which is really a neat time. We are lucky enough to know what is coming, where this journey is taking us. But even after he is born, we have a whole journey ahead of us. Not only do we have a journey that leads us to Epiphany, but then Lent and then on to Holy Week heading for Easter. It’s a long and transformative journey. Jesus had a whole lifetime of journeying to understanding who he was to others. He was created to share and spread the love of God to all the people of the earth. Which, coincidentally, is what we are all called to do in Christ’s image. This is something that I so strongly believe. That we are built to love. It is never our place to judge or change people. It is our responsibility to share our gifts, and our light with the world in order to be prepared for everything that God offers us.
My favorite quote is by Marianne Williamson:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
To me this is exactly what it means to be Christian, and exactly what it means to live into the image of Christ. Jesus shared his love so openly with the world. He gave and gave, and being with others filled him enough that he was able to continuously give. That sort of generosity is contagious. That sort of unconditional love makes others want to share and be a part of it. The desire to explore one’s faith draws others into the conversation. This is the season of waiting in anticipation. We may know what is going to happen next in the Church year, but it’s our job to discover what happens next in our own journeys.
My journey is only beginning, and I have learned so much already. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for me next!