Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Human Being as Wayfarer

I am reading a collection of essays titled, Wayfaring: Essays Pleasant and Unpleasant, by an author, blogger, essayist that I increasingly enjoy reading, Alan Jacobs. In the introduction he explains his title and paints an accurate picture of the Christian life...
An old phrase holds that to be a Christian is to be homo viator: the human being as wayfarer, as pilgrim. Wayfarers know in a general sense where we are headed: to the City of God, what John Bunyan, that great chronicler of pilgrimage, called the Celestial City—but we aren’t altogether certain of the way. We can get lost for a time, or lose our focus and nap for too long on a soft patch of grass at the side of the road, or dally a few days at Vanity Fair. We can even become discouraged—but we don’t ultimately and finally, give up. And we don’t think we have arrived. To presume that we have made it to our destination and to despair of arriving are both, as J├╝rgen Moltmann has wisely said, ways of “canceling the wayfaring character of hope.”
The last sentence deserves contemplation. A wayfarer has a character of hope. The wayfarer who believes he has arrived and the wayfarer who despairs of arriving both destroy that character of hope. They both, in some sense, have lost hope.
Hope comes from knowing that there is a way—and that we didn't make it. This is why the road’s unexpected turnings need not alarm us; this is why it’s possible even to enjoy the unpredictable, whether it comes from without or within.
This makes me think of Romans 8:24–25, “For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

May the Lord grant us both hope and patience.

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