It’s always important to know where you are going…if possible! But Thomas, the friend of Jesus, poses my question: “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” (Jn.14:5). I am one who is on the journey, but often I am confused or just in the dark about a way forward.
Jesus refers his closest friends back to their journey with him already: “I am the way,” he says. It became a cliche several years back to ask one’s self “What would Jesus do?” But, in many ways we know how to go forward because we have already learned what is important. Jesus taught love, forgiveness, inclusiveness, kindness and compassion. None of those steps or actions can be the wrong steps, no matter where we find ourselves.
And he also promised that his close friends would experience the Spirit living within them, reminding them of the ways of love. In celebrating my retirement, my beloved friend Sandy preached a whiz-bang sermon, in which she likened the Holy Spirit to a spiritual GPS in our travels, giving us course correction, reminding us to back up and turn around, telling when we have taken a wrong route. I have experienced that GPS within me, making itself known in sacred reading, in quiet prayer, in conversation with others. It is a source of creative energy, a fountain which produces ideas that seem to come from nowhere, about how to love, when to be quiet, and ways to think outside the box about knotty problems.
That Spirit also sharpens my senses to signs along the way that I might not be aware of otherwise. While I traveled last fall in northern New Mexico, I came out of my room one morning to see the sign on the grass in front of my room. It invited me to GROW! There were no further instructions at that site, but I was challenged to muse on ways I can still grow. I see that I can still learn to strengthen my body so that I can walk and hike to places I never imagined. I have set myself reading that is beyond my comfort zone, so that my intellect is still gathering and processing points of view that I have never considered. Social media has allowed me to converse with and pray with and for people whom I have not met, but whose view from their location opens me to a wider caring and commitment to the healing of the world that God loves. Signs abound in my life with the Spirit lens with which to view them, and they lead me onward. How could I have known that installing a drought resistant garden in the front yard would bring me a more joyful appreciation of the varieties of creation and prompt me to a deeper commitment to the care of that creation and its resources?
I will know they ways by the journey itself, by the Spirit guide who accompanies me, and points me to signs. The artist Brian Andreas helps me know how to look for them: