Journal Entry 060310 - The road is my home

Reading The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything by James Martin, S.J., one of the early companions of Ignatius, who said, “The road is our home.”

I am pretty sure what Nadal didn’t mean was what Merle Haggard sang about the road as his home, “I’ve had ramblin’ fever all along.” Nadal’s road was not a road of escape from duty and relationships, but a path toward God.

I also don’t think he meant a road as home like Willie Nelson, who sang, “I just can’t wait to get on the road again.” For Nelson the road itself was only a means to an end, the interval between concerts. For Nadal, I think the road was his final destination.

I’m not exactly sure what Jeronimo Nadal meant, but I think he meant that a life of prayer and contemplation was not enough unless it was also moving down the road. A follower of Jesus is expected to lead an active life, to be a “contemplative in action.”

Most of my own contemplation comes at one of two times: while I am writing raw thoughts in my journal, or more often, while I am moving my feet down the road (running or hiking).

The reason I have been thinking about roads is because of what my newest friends, Gary and Peter and Carl and Chad, told me last weekend. I was at a very small men’s retreat (almost like private lessons) where we spent many hours talking about God’s calling on our life. We told our life stories, we discussed images that described various aspects of our heart, we talked about movies and books and music and wives and friends. We were strangers to each other when we first arrived, but they soon knew as much about me as my longest friends. One theme the guys saw in my life was repeated references to paths and trails and bridges and doorways. Roads. I live my life on the road.

I knew it was correct the minute I heard it. In my mind and heart I am always on the road. I hope my road is not like Willie Nelson’s or Merle Haggard’s, but rather a road into the future toward God. I want to believe my best days are ahead of me, just a bit further down the road. I hope my closest days with God are down this pathway and my best times with Cyndi are across that elegant bridge. Not that my best is always out of reach, but that my best is ahead of me. I want to live a life moving into the future down this road, toward God’s best.

Jon Katz wrote (The Bedlam Farm Journal) about Joseph Campbell, who had an idea that most people are either security or mythically driven. Security-conscious people make deliberate choices about their life. They have money saved, jog and exercise, are prepared for recessions, retirement, illness, and beyond.

Mythically-driven people are different, and they make different choices. They take risks, and make deliberate decisions that the choices they make may not result in security as most Americans define it – money in the bank, fat IRAs, mortgage paid off.

So far, I’ve spent my life on the security road. Yet, surprisingly, as I’ve gotten older I’ve veered incrementally toward a more mythically-driven path. I would’ve expected the trend to go the opposite direction. I had expected age would make me even more cautious and anxious for security.

Campbell said mythically-driven people risk everything for their dreams. While I doubt I’ve ever risked everything for anything, I often wish I was more risky with my dreams. I know my dreams are taking up more space in my life and security is taking up less, but the ratio is still far from 50/50.

One more song reference: Russ Taff wrote a song titled Farther On, saying, “Now I’m standing on this road your hand has brought me to; you faithful love will lead me farther on.” So while I don’t want to stand on the road, I want to keep moving. But even more, I want to stay on the road God’s hand has pushed me to.

There was something else the guys pointed out to me over the weekend: I don’t want to go alone. As much as I talk about my need for solitude, I have an even bigger need to travel the road with my group. I don’t care whether I am in the lead, but I want us to keep moving together. I want you with me.


“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32

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