I often find myself reading about journeys and I like watching films about journeys. In a sense most films and novels are about journeys; either actual ones where the characters embark on a great journey or a more metaphysical journey where they become more aware of their own purpose in life. Some films and novels contain both the actual journey and the metaphysical one.
Many people will be undertaking journeys at this time of year to go on holiday. It’s a type of journey that has been popular for a few decades now – the package holiday or the camping trip or maybe wine-tasting in France or a cruise around the Med. These options are not open to everyone as the prices of these type of excursions are high and particularly during school holidays. The need to 'get away', to see different things and meet new people seems to be deeply ingrained in our psyche. Perhaps it's only so that we can fully appreciate our homes and comforts when we return.
Journeying has a special place in spiritual terms. Many religious cultures have a concept of pilgrimage, where people will travel for many days and many miles to visit a holy place. Some go through arduous journeys and even inflict great hardship on themselves, such as making the journey on their knees.
Whether taking a package holiday or making a pilgrimage, the journey itself is where we find ourselves being transformed. Even if the destination is a wonderful place it is how we cope with travelling, with delays, with diversions, with unexpected events, and who we encounter on the way that will make a significant difference. Perhaps the reason that taking trips and holidays and pilgrimages are so popular is that there are little metaphors for our whole lives. Our life is a journey made from the womb through infancy and childhood to youth and adulthood; then to middle age and old age, with many stopping off points in between.
Whatever journey you may make this summer - whether it is a long vacation, or a day trip out, or a visit to friends or even a pilgrimage - I hope that you discover something new and fresh about yourself, and that you encounter new friends on the way.
Revd Steven Rothwell