As I mention from time to time, the "journey" of this life is the image in my head of how we interact with each other as humans, how we progress in experience, how we eventually get to God ... it all feels like a journey to me.
This image fell into my brain - came into view - like watching something through the mist and the mist clears as you watch - while we were on vacation a few years ago. It seemed like revelation at the time, but, of course, everyone knows this feeling. All the philosophers, the authors of the books of Holy Writ, the pundits, and the grandmothers -- everyone knows life is a journey. What I got wasn't revelation. It was clarity. Clarity, and a panoramic visually stunning impression of it. When I look around like this, the sounds of one of the most clear tunes I know are what I hear.
When I first saw it, it seemed to me that suddenly I was at the edge of a vast plain, and all of the human race, in times past and here today, spread out across the face of the land, and stretching further back than the horizon to my left, in history and thinning out to be only a few people to my right, where a few men are closer to God.
The people who used to be on earth seemed still and silent to me. Forever they stand and stay, exactly as they were in this life. Whatever they were, that they stay -- to our view, anyhow. They seem like statues, each dressed in the way they would have been in life. Hippie beads and headbands have puritan era pilgrims behind them, and behind them the middle ages, all coiffed and trussed up are almost visible, and behind them I can make out the outlines of the Roman age.
Far away, the colors are faint and mellowed with age. Close by, there are people moving and speaking, and laughing and whining, and getting really really pissed off, and being overcome by joy. I'm sitting where I can look around a little. I am off to the side - in a sort of natural shelter made of the tree roots and undergrowth that happens where the earth slopes up steeply from a roadway.
From here, I can see more than I ever used to be able to, and when I see how people scramble and scratch and claw their way over rocks and brambles, and fight bravely on, I can also see now that everyone who does this does something inspiring and heroic. It's the people who refuse to go on that are to be pitied.
The ground slopes up from here. It moves toward God, who is the light at the top.
This image has been with me - in a thousand ways - for about five years now. Now I can see midlife as a sort of viewpoint, too. And I can begin to see how much I could not see from where I was, and I can make a fairly educated guess that there will be more blind spots and dangerous crossings ahead.
But I'm not going to sit here. I'm going to go on. The bags I leave here, to mark this spot, are the ones that carry my foolish assumptions about "knowing" things. It's obvious from here that the times I thought I knew the most were the places where I couldn't see a damn thing. When I thought I should be stronger, I was just a child, unaware of my human limitations. When I thought I was being stronger than anyone else, I was simply full of myself in the extreme - and utterly unaware of the power and courage of the sacrifices I would find later.
And when I thought that the people around me who limped just needed to buck up their ideas ... for that I repent. For my willful and intractable blindness toward the injuries and weaknesses of others, I repent. Those bags stay here.
This will be easier to carry:
Accept, O Lord, my entire liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my will. All that I am and have thou hast given to me; and I give all back to thee to be disposed of according to thy good pleasure. Give me only the comfort of thy presence and the joy of thy love; with these I shall be more than rich and shall desire nothing more.