“Life is a road. Life is not a resting place.”
— St. Columbanus
The Christian is always open to movement. As a pilgrim people we can’t help ourselves; movement reminds us that there is more to learn, more to see and more to grow into. Perhaps this is why we are always processing in our liturgies. All that parading around is sacramental as it informs our bodies that God calls us beyond the present moment and into his eternity.
That is not to say that our present time is honored any less. After all, part of our processing involves stopping along the way: stopping to rest, stopping to grieve, stopping to reflect … but stopping for sure. From the Great vigil of Easter to a simple funeral liturgy we stop in the midst of all our processing, we stop but for a while.
As an Easter people the road of life beckons us be- yond that present moment of grief to that next place of resurrected life, from that present place of suffering to Christ’s promised gift of healing. So let’s not concern ourselves with confining or restricting the faithful as each lives out his/her pilgrimage. God invites each and all beyond the present to God’s next place of calling.
An Australian bishop shared a story reminding us that we need not seek to contain the faithful as long as we are caring for them. He writes: A woman “from away” was visiting a sheep station which was owned by an old childhood friend. After admiring the flock, the buildings and various bits of equipment necessary to make for a functioning sheep station, she noticed to her surprise, that there were no fences to be found anywhere. She commented upon this to her host, “Why are there no fences on your property. Won’t your sheep wander?” Her host responded, “We don’t need fences, we have wells.”
What new life is God calling you into? If you stop moving you’ll never recognize it for it will never come into view. I guess this is just the long way to tell you what Bunyan taught us centuries ago: Pilgrims progress!
— Michael Wright
Grace Church, Charleston