on the road again?

Heather and I spent Sunday afternoon together, talking about the possibility of walking together. I'm getting more and more excited about it. Or scared. Sometimes it's hard to tell.

Reading "On Pilgrimage" reminded me of some good things. Aspects of the walking I really liked, and have missed since then. For example, the simplicity and universality of the symbolism involved. The obvious vulnerability and dependence on God for "daily bread" and protection in what seems like a hostile environment (especially to a poor stranger). And how that communicates what faith is. When I wrote that essay in January 2001, my focus was primarily on faith as "dying to self." Which I still think is true, but lately I've been focusing more on faith as radical dependence on God, which may be the deeper truth. A very important thing to preach.

Also the image of the pilgrim is really great. I loved this picture from Iraq, for example:

The pilgrim image is a classic in the history of Christianity. There's a challenge in it, a rejection of the security and comforts society offers (always with strings attached). Living outside the bounds of society's accepted roles and institutions. And there's purpose and meaning in it. Direction. Not just struggling for survival, but going somewhere. Not "settling down" here on earth, because we're headed for home.

And I love how it catches people's attention and imagination. And raises questions. Brings out the best and worst in people.

Years ago, I'd dreamed of having a partner. But recently I'd thought my pilgrim travels were behind me. Now I find myself thrilled to think that maybe Heather and I can go out together. I think it would be very different with her (and more challenging in a good way). Her friendliness and ease with people would draw us into a lot more and better encounters, I imagine. And her desire to be with and care for the poor might help us be of better service to the most needy, something I've felt was a shortcoming in my past walks. This may all be an answer to some deep groanings of my heart. At least it feels that way so far.