“Journey has been, throughout much of human history, a metaphor that has aided the intellect in understanding what the spirit intuits. Journey happens on so many levels of life, some of which are invisible, many of which are known but never seen… A journey taken in awareness brings us close to all the joys and sorrows, the agonies and the ecstasies where we breathe and live and move and have our being. Such a journey always reminds us that in eternal Love, ev’ry day is now: our life is hid with Christ in God.”
These inspiring words about journeying are by Ken Nafziger, and he wrote them for the cover jacket of the CD Sing the Journey 2 (Herald Press, 2006). The italicized words are lyrics from one of its songs. This CD accompanied us on a rather unique vacation; a vacation where my husband and I introduced relatives from Germany, whom I had never met before, to a good chunk of Canada. They spoke fluent Russian and German, and we spoke fluent English, and an almost fluent German.
Our lives had some significant points of both convergence and divergence, but I was amazed at how well people with such different life histories and world views could get along, especially on a two week vacation where diverging views didn’t need to clash.
It connects with another adventure we’ve been experiencing with a group of horse and buggy driving Mennonites who settled in our province about 7 years ago. A unique set of circumstances put them in conflict with Manitoba’s Child and Family Services, who have taken their children away from them until they learn to comply with current legal standards on child discipline. This led them to ask for help from my husband, who had developed a relationship with them in his former role as Executive Director of our relief and service agency, Mennonite Central Committee.
So he, and to a lesser extent I, have been journeying with them these conservative and uniquely clad folk. As we have helped them navigate a difficult stretch of life, their leaders have also become our friends. Even though they travel by horse and buggy and we travelled stretches of our vacation by air, cell phone conversations continued, even as we enjoyed the secluded beauty of a cottage in Quebec.
Then, after we dropped off our German guests in Ottawa, and prepared to drive our rental van back to Toronto, from where we flew home,we had significant, enjoyable encounters with far flung relatives who could consider us almost as religiously conservative as we consider these other friends.
While driving back, we pondered at what it takes to enjoy sharing the journey of life and faith with others. Each of these encounters revealed signs of God’s gracious activity.
We mused that diversity doesn’t necessarily rob the joy of relating, or block the development of friendship. Integrity doesn’t demand that we share ideas that would distress our fellow journeyers. Hospitality and grace, one the other hand, demand that we respect our fellow journeyers as well as our differences.
And we wondered, what is it that really, really matters as we relate with each other in all our diversity. How much agreement on ideas and issues is necessary to remain in good relationship. I’m still pondering, but I think it has a lot to do with claiming that “in eternal Love, ev’ry day is now: our life is hid with Christ in God.” And God, in whom our lives are hidden in eternal love is one who long ago let it be known what is required; that we “love kindness, do justice, and walk humbly with our God.” (Micah 6:8)