I simultaneously loathe and love clichés such as this: “It’s the journey, not the destination.” I love it because it is grounded in truth, and loathe it because it is a truth I often find myself ignoring.
Maybe we think of Christmas as the destination – or maybe even Epiphany. And while Advent is a season which leads up to these two celebrations, Christmas and Epiphany, it is easy to just think of Advent as a stepping stone before we reach, “the big day,” something we can walk on without thought.
But its times like these, seasons like Advent, that the cliché, “It’s the journey, not the destination,” is most filled with truth – truth that we cannot ignore.
We celebrate Christmas as a time when God has come to be with us, to live with us and to experience life with us in the must humble of ways – as a human being, born of a human mother, as an infant in lying in a feeding trough. And even though we have celebrated Christ’s coming in Christmas’ past, even though we have prepared for Christ’s coming years before, it’s an opportunity to ask ourselves again and again, “Are we really ready to receive Christ into this world?”
That is why we take time to prepare for Christ’s coming. That is why we celebrate Advent, this penitential season full of self-examination and self-inspection: to make our hearts, our lives, and our world ready for Christ’s arrival. Indeed we also take time to prepare the Christmas ham, the presents under the tree and the new garland around the door. But we must make time for Christ’s arrival into our hearts and lives – because He is coming!
And this advent – this time of preparing for Christ’s coming into our lives is a journey.
I would argue most of us cannot just fix one thing and say we are ready for Christ’s arrival. It’s hardly enough to simply change the bed sheets and claim to be ready. Rather there are many things we find ourselves doing, many changes and preparations. Some preparations are as simple as changing the bed sheets, like quitting a habit we know is not good for our relationship with God. But other preparations take time, they take careful planning and include steps and building blocks that build on top of one another. And in this sense – it IS about the journey.
Our spiritual journey is filled with stepping stones and building blocks which help us to find a more right relationship with God. Our spiritual journey is complete with ups and downs, highs, lows, and plateaus, all of which contribute to our relationship with the Divine. Many of us would not be in the relationship with God we are in, without the entirety of our spiritual journey leading up to this point.
Simultaneously, our Christmas and Epiphany experience will not be the same without the journey towards it, without Advent.
Let us journey together, utilizing the tools we’ve each brought for the journey as we prepare for Christ’s coming. And as cliché as it may sound, may we embrace this journey. Because it is both the journey AND the destination that bring us to right relationship with God.
In Hope and Peace… Laura