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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Jeremiah 6:16

"Thus says the Lord:  Stand at the crossroad, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way lies; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls."

I am told we will do a lot of walking in our 14 days of pilgrimage.  I am already enjoying the pacing and the stories of each place we visit.  Today, as we went up to the Cliffs of Arbell (not a Biblical site, but a wonderful spot to be oriented to the geography of the Sea of Galilee and the communities all around), we read this passage and spent some time reflecting by ourselves and walking around the top of the cliff.  Just parsing this short verse could take up volumes of journaling and hours of prayer and reflection. 

For starters, whenever I am at a crossroad, I am generally so preoccupied with where I should turn, that I seldom spend time looking, let alone asking questions.  And for heaven's sake, why would I ask for an ancient path?  Shouldn't I be concerned with the new, the innovative, the unique and original, the solution that will unlock the doors to success, growth, prosperity and institutional survival?  Pshaw, what do ancient paths have to tell me? 

We had lunch in the town of Tiberias and it is a fascinating mix of ancient and very modern.  It is also a city of mixed culture, race and religion.  I found it a stimulating place to be.  Now, back to the passage.

For sure, the paths here are ancient.  I find so far that the link to the ancient is more significant to me than whether or not it was ACTUALLY the place that Jesus did this or that, but that millions have trod for centuries over this ground, have stuck prayers in between rocks and have dipped their toes in the Sea.   Yesterday we dipped our feet in the Mediterranean Sea and on Saturday morning we will take a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee.

Then, in asking and looking, it says the good way will be found.  I also find myself wondering if the good way is a way that is good or if any way can be good.  Is it what we make of whatever way/path that we are on?   Too much deep thinking for someone who is still somewhat jet lagged.  I am not really given to such introspection on a daily basis.  There must be a pacing, an intentionality and a consciousness that is far more attuned than I am ordinarily on any given day.  It takes so much more time and energy to slow down than it does to go the pace of all the world around me.

We were in three different churches this afternoon...St. Peter's Primacy, Tabgha (The Church of the Loaves and Fishes) and a Greek Orthodox Church that we just happened into at the end of our day.  Each one of them brought delight, insight and beauty into our day.  Each one of them, in their own unique way, were restful places, despite the throngs of tourists surrounding us!!!!!

Finally, the passage ends with "you will find rest for your souls." I know that I entered this time of pilgrimage and this journey to holy places in a pretty dry and parched and weary state.  Weary from selling a house, weary from buying a house and moving, weary from grief of death in the church I serve and the death of my own mother, weary from the mundane and the extraordinary.  I trust and I pray that no matter where I am on this journey of two weeks, or this journey of a lifetime that God has gone ahead of me, God meets and receives me and God follows after me, even if at the end of the day, I respond with the final phrase of the passage that we chose NOT to read in our reflection....

16 This is what the Lord says:
“Stand at the crossroads and look;
    ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,    and you will find rest for your souls.    But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’

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