Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Tale of Two Roads

This last season of my life is best captured by two roads. It sounds like a tired metaphor, except it’s not a metaphor. I have in mind two actual paths. One you drive and the other you walk.

The first road was a way of salvation for me for many years. In my spiritual life, the Damascus Road or the Road to Emmaus do not hold a candle to the 101 freeway. No one who has ever driven on the 101 near the 405 interchange would ever call it the road less traveled. But every few weeks, when the work of ministry had taken more than it had given, I would sneak off to the 101 North and drive up the California coast to the Santa Ynez Valley, the wine country just past Santa Barbara.

There is a point on the 101, right around Ventura, where your car emerges from the gripping congestion of greater L.A. and you are greeted by the Pacific Ocean lapping the central coast of California. As the road opens up, so does the landscape, and with the blue ocean on my left and the emerald hills on my right, my soul would take a deep breath. I called these jaunts “wine retreats,” though admittedly at first they weren’t particularly spiritual. I was parched from ministry and I hoped some good Pinot Noir would quench my thirst.

Over time I began to apply different language to these adventures. I started to call them “pilgrimages,” allying myself with ancient wayfarers who trekked to holy places and usually stopped along the way at monasteries for food, rest, and a glass of estate wine. The vineyards became a “thin place” for me, one of those hallowed spots in the Celtic tradition where the clouds that separate heaven and earth part and the sun of God’s presence shines brilliantly.

To read the rest of this post, called A Tale of Two Roads, head over to Internet Monk, where I will be writing a monthly post.