Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The journey

There were thousands of them: migrating birds flying too high for identification as I ran for the bus this morning. Where were they going? From where had they flown? When did they begin their journey and who long would it last? How many would last the distance and how many would die on the way?

Their flight was silent and in unison. There was a determination to their movement, very different, for example, to the swallows that circle, soar and dart in the last couple of weeks before their long voyage to Africa commences. When they test their wings before setting off, there is almost playfulness in their flight. Still full of energy and a good diet of insects still in the vicinity, they can afford to have time to play, full of loveliness as the setting sun creates its own silhouette of their arrow-shaped bodies.

Not so the flock of birds above Rome this morning. They flew quietly and purposefully, still with huge distances and vast expanses of land and ocean yet to be crossed before they could land to take a rest once more. Not all of the birds would reach their destination. At least some would perish on the journey. Perhaps some would find a watery grave.

Yet fear of predators or a long journey did not deter them. None of them had held back, debating whether or not to take the first flap of countless wing beats into the sky. Admittedly they did not have the ability to ponder their courage. Admittedly, instinct played its part, calling them to distant lands. Yet courage there was, and perseverance.

Sometimes we find ourselves setting out on our own journey through life. It might be hard. It might be full of joy, but at the very first step, we do not know what lies ahead. All we know for certain is that, from the moment of birth, to the instant that our eyes close for the last time, we are on a journey, travelling through every moment of every day. Sometimes there is solitude and, on occasion, loneliness. Companions might or might not offer their support. There might be moments of hope and moments of despair. Sunshine and clouds will appear and disappear on the path. Perhaps there will be occasions of fear as well as those of hope. At times, courage will seem to have flown in the opposite direction. At others, over-confidence and a certain brashness might disguise the need for humility, listening and the ability to learn.

Lord, be with us on our journey. Be at its start and at its end.

God bless,
Sr. Janet