The Journey


Ordinarily, I try not to put a more extended quote or poem in a Devo, but this just might be my favorite Mary Oliver poem: 

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.
I love this poem, and it speaks to me on so many levels.  It's a tale of transformation and self-discovery.  It paints images that are inedible if we would embrace them to our own bosom. 

This is the kind of poem that speaks to the way that I believe we hear the voice of God speaking to us above the din of all of the other voices in our own heads.  

Funny that the voice of God can sound so much like our own.  It seldom comes from the outside, you see.  It's a voice that speaks from deep within our souls, a voice that we recognize but finally trust. 

Because it's hard to trust even our own voice when it's speaking untruths to us. 

Sometimes, we have a moment in our spiritual journey when we realize we can't save people.  We might even start to see how all of our efforts may have actually kept them from finding what they are looking for.  

It's not easy to walk away from the things and the individuals that have kept us propped up, standing still, unable to become the people we have always dreamed we might become.  

The road before us might be filled with obstacles, but when we keep walking and climbing, we soon find that even the sky has changed.  We can see the light again, pin-pricking the darkness, lighting our way.  

The only thing that we can really do, after all, is to live the life we have been given to the fullest.  

We reflect God's glory when we begin to do this bravely and well.  The voice (our own) that we hear then is one urging us to keep going, a voice that speaks grace and peace to us, reminding us who we really are.   

If you are reading this, you find yourself listening to the bad advice of the voices who keep crying, "Mend my life!" That advice is typically to stay right where you are, as you are.  

You need to know that there is always time for you to start walking again and to let go of all of the guilt you might feel about not being able to save the world so that you can live in the world more fully as yourself.  

The way will be clearer as you begin taking more steps, but you must begin with the first one.  

May it be so.  And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.  


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