Sunday, September 25, 2011

Albuquerque, Part 3: In which the Pilgrim Finally Learns what God had been Trying to Teach Him, 20 years later

Previous on Gone Walkabout: Pilgrimage in Albuquerque.  Wandering along a highway.  Slugs under bridges. Run away! 

Last week, I had the chance to go back to Albuquerque for the first time since my pilgrimage. In many ways it was a surreal experience -- I drove along that highway that I had walked along some 20 years ago, saw with new eyes both what had drawn me and what I had completely ignored.

I felt a lot of sympathy, too, for that kid, just a year out of college and pretty naive still, with these high hopes for a very special and personal religious experience. It turns out, he probably did get what he wanted, but it wasn't at all what he expected it to look like, and it was in many ways a painful lesson.

At the end the day, I went back to the Jesuit parish that I had stayed at. I had just hoped to sit in the church for a little bit, see if that stirred any further memories.  But as it turned out they had a 5:30 mass there, which with a moment's consideration seemed so much more appropriate.

And as I sat there in the pews, the presider began his homily in this way: "What are you doing here?" It was a quote from the reading, but he addressed it to all of us.  What are you doing here?  We're all on a journey, he told us, and what we need to know is this -- we are where we are by divine appointment.  That is to say, we are here because it is what God wants for us. God has called us to this moment, to this place.

Imagine that, to come back to a place you had been on pilgrimage 20 years ago and be told by some random presider who doesn't know you from Adam, you have been on a journey, and it's the journey that God wants for you. It's a little like Moses on the mountain, you're awed at the presence and glory of God, and at the same time you have to close your eyes, because He's just way too close.

Perhaps this week, hear these words addressed to you, and see where they take you:

What are you doing here?

You're on a journey.

And maybe most of all: God has called you here.

Amazing to think about, isn't it?



1 comment:

Rusty's music of the heart said...

Great post, Jim. Didn't know u had gone back there. Awesome photo…..