Do not leave the Path!
Each Well Spring Day of this year deepens various aspects of what is of great importance for each of our paths when we hear the challenging call to the fullness of life and to adventure, take it seriously and heed it.
How do we deal with stages of life that seem to us as if they will never end, which are boring, in which darkness rules? In »The Hobbit« by J. R. R. Tolkien such a stretch of journey is described through »the Mirkwood«, the most dangerous part of the adventure. We seek the light in the darkness and our primordial needs threaten to lure us unto false paths. Do we give in to short term temptations? Or do we give up? It is no wonder that at the beginning of this part of their journey, the hobbit and the dwarves repeatedly hear the warning: Do not stray from the path! There is only one safe path through the treacherous Mirkwood, and that is the path that leads straight through the forest. If this mission and adventure is to succeed, then they must heed this advice. Naturally, they leave the path and no one is surprised that as a consequence bad things happen. This is not harmless. What happens thereafter has the power to totally sabotage their mission, their great undertaking.
To reach our goal requires that we faithfully remain on the path - even if at times it is almost unbearable, the sameness of the days befogs us and outcome is shrouded in darkness.
The path of Jesus from the north of Galilee to the capital of Jerusalem speaks of this. Despite the disciple’s incomprehension when he speaks of suffering and death, despite enticements to chose another path, he does not stray from his path. He does not deviate from his mission, precisely then when it becomes ever darker. When the most extreme moment approaches and fills his heart with fear, he does not take the escape route over the Mount of Olives, as David once did on his flight from Abshalom, but perserveres for hour in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. Before the highest authorities, his answers are terse and to the point: »You have said so.« He does not debate: Herod »plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer.« (Lk 23, 9)
Sooner or later, and perhaps more than once, each of us will have to pass through his or her Mirkwood. Then we will truly understand the words of the Psalmist: »Send forth your light and your truth; let them guide me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell.« (Ps 43, 3)
Looking at his darkest hour, Jesus sees the great danger for his own in their lack of orientation. Therefore, he says: »You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where 5ey are going. Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you might become children of light.« (Joh 12, 35-36)
May we take up and preserve the light in us.
May we not lose the goal of our life’s adventure from our hearts.
As companions, may we remind one another of both these truths, so that we do not stray from the path when it grows dark.
Vallendar, April 18th, 2019