I would have to confess that these journey metaphors grow tiresome if they didn’t fit so damn nicely.
It’s hard to get your bearings, to understand your relative position on “the way” with only your own point of view. It’s not that you would necessarily be WRONG about it – but you would be imprecise. And if one is walking a narrow way, with cliffs and swamps and wild beasts hiding in the thickets then precision is important.
Aidan did not walk his way alone. He had companions (most of whom go unnamed) and a few we know; perhaps the most famous being Oswald the King.
There had to be a deep mutual trust between them as they made their way through the uncharted territory of evangelizing an entire nation. I imagine Oswald considering his own personal experience, his diagnosis or evaluation of the situation and then sharing his point of view on matters with Oswlad, who corrected, or enhanced his original assessment…and of course visa versa. Each trusting in the view of the other increased the precision of the overall view.
I have experienced this in real life journeys as well to great positive effect, e.g. not falling off a cliff I did not perceive was there until a traveling companion pointed it out!
Even on this trip: Tim was “official navigator” and keeper of the guidebook and map and he did a brilliant job, guiding us from the Upper Springs to the Nether Springs with nary a glitch. But on occasion, discerning the way required more than one perspective. Another set of eyes taking in the landscape and map brought clarity to our position.
This is not a new, and certainly not an exclusively Christian, idea. Most world views of even minimal merit have somewhere near their center a commitment to “togetherness” or “community” or “partnership”. When we began Allen Creek Community Church 21 years ago, the founding scriptural ideal was Ecclesiastes 4:11-12
“Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.”
So why am I still so surprised and ashamed of myself when a traveling buddy gently and lovingly steps up to me, takes the map out of my hand and turns it right side up for me again, clearly indicating I was not where I thought I was.
This need to be independent, to do it myself, and not make mistakes is lodged much deeper in my being than I thought. I could easily blame my father for it. He was the one who lived this out; explicitly and implicitly drove it into me. But he was simply responding to what was driven in to him, the origins of which I will never fully know. There is no value any longer in finding the origins of these impulses. The value lies in coping with them as they are now.
I am deeply motivated to make sure people see me as strong, wise and capable in ALL things, but also independent, dare I say it, “above needing others“?.
Yes, I wish to actually BE strong, wise and capable. But the need to be seen as such is still the higher value I’m afraid, or at least the temptation is still powerful.
Why was it OK for Corman to be corrected/directed by Aidan, Aidan by Oswald, Peter by John, John by Jesus…but it’s anathema to me?
Thank you, Brenda for being my person.