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A Way, not the Life

It's easy to get sidetracked on the roadway of life.

A Framework for Faith/Spiritual Practice

What then are you, human life? You are the roadway of mortals, not their life...A way is what you are, a way, but you are not manifest to all; for many see you, and few understand you to be a way...Thus you are to be questioned and not believed or warranted, traversed, not occupied...for on a roadway none dwells but walks, that those who walk upon the way may dwell in their homeland.

  - Columbanus, Sermon V (Irish, 7th century)

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

  - Ephesians 5.15, 16

Our lives are, indeed, but a journey toward a destination beyond this world. So we don't want to linger on the path, but traverse it carefully, constantly, and in good faith, our eyes squarely fixed on the eternal horizon that beckons us home.

It's easy to get sidetracked and even momentarily lost on the roadway of life. Instead of concentrating on the homeland toward which we are journeying, we begin to think of the way and all the distractions on either side of it as our real lives. We pause too long in certain places, or stray from the path to investigate something we'd be just as well off leaving alone.

The idea of the Christian life as a journey has a good pedigree. Not only Columbanus but Edwards and Bunyan - as well as Dante - made good use of this idea. Know where you're bound. Keep the goal of your travels in mind. Long for your homeland and represent it well as you travel. Don't mistake the road you travel for the place you are called to occupy. Watch out for dangers along the way. Keep your heart in your homeland.

These are the kinds of advice and metaphors such writers hold out to us in order to help us think clearly about our purpose in life for the here and now until we arrive at the then and there. We are called to live then and there, here and now, so that all our steps of each day's journey bear the clear mark of anticipating our eternal home. We live in the present with an eye to the eternal future, for this is where our true home is to be found.

So be careful how you walk. Are you traveling the roadway of life or trying to dwell on it?

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T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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