Articulation and Experience — Palm Sunday

Today is the day on which we celebrate pilgrimage. In the gospel texts that articulate the events of this day, we witness not only the intersection of a huge variety of journeys but the culmination of them.

They reach their various destinations. Ironically, the journeys and the people on them all end up at the same place. And this is the case even though the journeyers view, the place – destination – in dramatically different ways. They all believe this is the place where what they desire will be accomplished. Same destination but with different goals. How could we have different goals but all end up in the same place?! (I invite you to consider that notion deeply. Indeed, this dynamic is sooo much of our everyday life in relationship with others.)

I have shared my struggle to put words on the experienced reality of my life with and in Christ Jesus.

I have spoken of it as:

  • a journey/pilgrimage
  • an unfolding
  • about identity before it is about behavior
  • a labyrinth
  • a pulsating point (thank you Fr. Serafim)

As a result of spending time with a dear friend over the course of a weekend of retreat, we spoke of the need to articulate authentic experience. The need to put into words what has, is, and will occur.

He sent this quote to me. It is a beautiful articulation of the faithful struggle that is our life in Christ Jesus.

If you could do it, I suppose, it would be a good idea to live your life in a straight line—starting, say, in the Dark Wood of Error, and proceeding by logical steps through Hell and Purgatory and into Heaven.  Or you could take the King’s Highway past appropriately named dangers, toils, and snares, and finally cross the River of Death and enter the Celestial City.  But that is not the way I have done it, so far.  I am a pilgrim, but my pilgrimage has been wandering and unmarked.  Often what has looked like a straight line to me has been a circle or a doubling back.  I have been in the Dark Wood of Error any number of times.  I have known something of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven, but not always in that order.  The names of many snares and dangers have been made known to me, but I have seen them only in looking back.  Often I have not known where I was going until I was already there.  I have had my share of desires and goals, but my life has come to me or I have gone to it mainly by way of mistakes and surprises.  Often I have received better than I have deserved.  Often my fairest hopes have rested on bad mistakes.  I am an ignorant pilgrim, crossing a dark valley.  And yet for a long time, looking back, I have been unable to shake off the feeling that I have been led—make of that what you will. Wendell Berry, Jaber Crow, p. 133.


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