“Each of us gets to choose the paths we travel.” This is the opening statement to a study on following in the footsteps and in the way of Jesus. We called it “The Ridiculous Journey” because, well, just think about it. Why would you choose to follow a poor, wandering, homeless, guy from Nowhere Galilee who lived 2000 years ago? He is not exactly the poster child for 21st century success.
But do we really all get to choose the paths we travel? So much of our life is laid out before us by the circumstance into which we are born. It is not true that my Guatemalan friend, born outside of Xela in the mountains of Guatemala in the opening years of what the UN now has designated a 36 yearlong genocide has the same range of choice that I have, born in small town BC into peace and tranquility.
Yet he and I have both chosen to follow the path of that itinerant teacher from Galilee. Why would the two of us each make that same choice under such radically different circumstances?
Well I can’t speak for my friend, but I can tell you why I would choose this path. First of all, it’s a great story, full of dilemas, just like mine, full of hope just like I need, full of humour, and who doesn’t need humour, full of grace, and God knows we need that. Second, there’s a huge body of inspiring teaching, lessons that untangle so many of life’s knots. Third, this path offers a set of practices, prayer, hospitality, compassion, generosity, that actually heal and transform. Fourth, I have a ready-made community of practice, people to share a piece of the road who long for some of the same things I long for. And finally, I have discovered that I have company on this ridiculous journey- spiritual companionship- a spirit, a presence, with whom I am never alone.
At Highlands we don’t claim to have all the answers. And even some of the ideas we do try to follow seem a little ridiculous- things like loving your enemy, welcoming the stranger, and giving all we have. But it is our chosen path, one that anyone can choose, one that nobody walks perfectly, but a path that you are welcome to try.
Rev. Will Sparks
Lead Minister, Highlands United Church