By Sister Barb Smith, ASC
Journeys always stir something deep within me. There is something exciting about taking off into the unknown.
Where will this road take me? Who will I encounter?
The Adventure beings
Maybe it is the adventure, the willingness to be challenged, taking a leap of faith or the excitement of discovering something new, but it seems that my whole life has been about being on a journey.
One of these journeys touched my life in a significant way in 1982 when I responded to a call to minister among the Navajo on a reservation in New Mexico. My life was enriched in ways that I never expected and I am so grateful to have had that opportunity.
It was a gift to learn about this native people’s culture and spirituality, their love of Mother Earth and family, and to respect their traditions and honor their closeness to prayer. I learned that every aspect of their lives was cause for gratitude to their Creator God.
My relationship with the Navajo opened my eyes to see beauty in the desert, to appreciate the rising and setting sun, to enjoy their laughter and their teasing, all of which stretched my heart ever wider to see the blessing of diversity. I was blessed to be among them for 24 years in a number of ministries, from pastoral care to volunteer firefighting. My heart still calls me back home to the reservation to be renewed in the Navajo’s spirit and friendship.
It is here, in the quiet of New Mexico’s high desert, where I contemplate my next steps, my next ministry, the next journey. I find myself in the in-between after having completed six years of ministry on the Adorers’ General Council in international leadership in Rome.
That just-completed ministry put me on paths that even in my wildest dreams I would not have expected to travel. The journey took me to many continents and its diverse peoples and cultures. Each was an opportunity to be changed in my thinking, in my spirit of welcoming differences of language, food, spirituality and prayer styles.
I grew to appreciate and grow more comfortable with each culture and people. While I did not know each of their languages, together we learned the language of the heart, which carried me through my many encounters.
Advent, a journey
Advent is one of my most favorite liturgical seasons and it is a fitting time for me to reflect on my journey of the last six years. The readings speak so often of preparing the road, making straight the pathway for our God.
How have my journeys been pathways for God and how will I continue to make straight, prepare the way, welcome the journey? As the Prophet Isaiah says, “This is the way, walk in it.”
Can I trust that this is the way and begin to walk the path in faith?
The readings also call me to listen: “A voice cries out in the wilderness.” What is the message of this voice, what do I need to hear? I hope that I can be like Mary, our Mother, who listened, who welcomed the Word of God and found a sacred space to treasure all of these moments in her heart.
For me, choosing the road less traveled is not the most important part of the journey, but rather what has touched my heart, moved me to embrace and respect life, people and cultures.
- What journey are you on?
- What road are you being invited to choose?
- What do you need to hear?
- Is it the one less traveled that takes you to Emmanuel, God-who-is-with-us?
Trust the Prophet Isaiah, who said: “This is the way, walk in it.”