Grace for the Journey

For as long as you can remember, your eyes have been fixed on the horizon.

You have heard it said so often: Focus on the horizon; imagine where you will be in a year, five years, ten years from now. You can do it all, they say, and you can do it well.

And so you set out on the well-worn path, knowing fully where to go but unsure of what it might take to get there. But never mind that; the road sings too loudly of success and accomplishment. This is the road to making a name for yourself, surely, and achieving all there is to achieve. This is the road to having a positive impact on the world, the road to becoming the change that you want to see in the world!

So you march along, a spring in your step, an unblinking gaze glued to the far-off and the then-and-there, certain that you will make it there, no matter the cost. For you have too many places to go, too many sights to see, too many experiences to have, too many figures to meet—

But you find that there are bristles on the way, thorns that prick and branches that scratch.

No matter, you say, and push on through the pain, mouth set and eyes bright. After all, there is too much to accomplish.

But you find that there are lions and tigers and bears, oh my, that growl and snarl and leave you with marks that drip—but there is no time, no time to tend to your wounds. There is too much to do, too far to travel.

But there are sunless storms that leave you shivering; starless nights that leave you trembling; and voiceless days that leave you yearning. But your unblinking gaze wavers not. You push through; you must push through—

And the day comes, finally, when you find that you cannot take another step. You must go on, for there is yet so much further to run. The journey has emptied you, but what is there apart from the journey? Where else is there to go but forward?

Out of desperation, you break your gaze and, for the first time, glance at the sidelines to your left and right. And oh, oh, what surprise awaits you there: faces, many faces. Faces that mirror your exhaustion so precisely you could cry; faces with such joy that makes you wonder why; faces that seem to shout, “Stay awhile! We were you once; our souls were weary, too. Stay awhile; we know you not, but know you well!”

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And so, for the first time (but surely not the last), you step off the well-mapped path and onto the strangely-pathless grass. You learn to bandage your wounds, to take shelter, to share a blanket and a bowl. For the first time, you learn to breathe. You have found grace—the grace that had been there from the start. But you had been too fixated on the horizon to notice it, too preoccupied to see it, too important to need it.

Your soul was never built to be restless. For what good is a journey if the feet are weary? What does a destination matter if the body is broken? There is always time to bandage, to heal, to breathe. The journey itself is worthwhile, surely, but there is always, always grace for the journey.

Rebekah Choi