Engage: Journey

We begin reading ‘Journey to the Common Good’ (Revised Edition) tomorrow. I want to offer an introductory reflection today.

The metaphor of journey is arguably the main way that Scripture and Tradition describe the spiritual life and its formation in us. Brueggemann uses the metaphor with respect to the advancement of the common good–that is, an incremental, little-by-little movement into its realization. He uses biblical insights from Exodus, Jeremiah, and Isaiah to describe this journey, as we shall see.

Today, I want to point out how many others have used the journey metaphor, and continue to use it today. Brueggemann is in good company, and you may want to include these other people in your exploration of the journey metaphor.

In his book, ‘The Spirituality of the Psalms’ Brueggemann describes it as a journey from orientation, to disorientation, to reorientation. An old order collapses, and we move toward a new creation, with liminal space (disorientation) in between. The “wilderness” is a biblical metaphor for the in-between time. I will write about it in next week’s meditation.

In the journey metaphor, we are rooted in the Bible, with key passages like Abraham’s journey from Ur to the land God would show him (Gen 12 ff.), the Exodus from Egypt to Canaan, Jesus’ teaching in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-8), and Paul’s description of life in Christ the old passing away so the new can come (2 Cor 5:17). All such passages describe a threefold pattern of leaving, floundering, and entering.

I am making a general study of this threefold pattern of journeying. Here are the books that are helpful to me in this general sense…

Richard Rohr, ‘The Wisdom Pattern’–order, disorder, reorder.

Thomas Merton, ‘New Seeds of Contemplation’–false self, inadequacy, true self.

Anne Lamott, ‘Dusk, Night, Dawn: On Revival and Courage’–dusk, night, dawn.

Paul Tournier, ‘The Meaning of Persons’–(trapeeze analogy), first bar, between-the-bars, second bar

Henri Nouwen, ‘Flying, Falling, Catching’ (uses trapeeze analogy too)–flying, falling, catching.

Joyce Rupp, ‘Open the Door,’-opening, closing, entering. She also uses a trifold metaphor in other writing, one in which we say good-bye, struggle to say anything, and say hello.

David Brooks, ‘The Second Mountain’–first mountain, valley, second mountain.

These are only some of the resources that are shining a helpful light on the journey metaphor. They increase my appreciation of Brueggemann’s use of it relative to the common good, and my anticipation for using it in our Engage Group.

Off we go!

About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 45 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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