I’m constantly running, looking for the right place (which is always over there, never here). So What do we do when the teacher is here?
There will be a voice behind you, saying “This is the way. Walk in it.”
Here’s a couple of different options: one is very popular among Christians of all stripes just now. In this pattern everything is there, the perfect vocation, the perfect spouse, the perfect choices. God has a plan for your life. Your job is simply to discern the right choices and make them. God has awesome laid out for you. This is the way; walk in it.”
There’s this other option: in this one the way is the way of Salvation. You have to end the game saved. How you play the game is up to you, though. Will you try for ordination? Will you get married? Will you struggle as single? Will the end come in a career path in tech? Is pilgrimage your route? Will the end of the game be the retirement villa or homelessness?
What if the path is only the way of the Cross?
Thomas Merton was prepping to enter the Franciscan Order. He was quite convinced that he should: they’d let him teach college, he’d have a home, and three squares, and he’d go to mass and pray. In fact, he was already teaching at the Franciscan College. He’ just have to move wings in the dorm.
But several hours away by train there was this Trappist monastery that called out to him. He’d have to give all that up, all the set up, all the easy change… and actually do something.
In the end Merton’s choice was driven by the realization that the Franciscan path was too easy, that it required no sacrifice to do it. If God wanted him to give up everything, he couldn’t do it by holding most things in reserve.
So he ditched it all. And thus became the great spiritual teacher we know today. What a blessing it was for all the world that he decided to simply walk the way of the Cross. It “triggered” all of his Charisms, it made all his gifts manifest. That decision: I will give up everything, made him who God called him to be. Note: he didn’t wrestle with the ideas of that last thing. That last thing just happened.
The teacher is before us (Christ, hanging on the Cross) and there is a voice that says, “here’s the path, walk in it.” It only goes to one place: Christ on the Cross. There’s only one way to win, of course: get the most points. But there are so many ways to get points. This path, though, only goes to the firey end of all our lives.
When you die, will you have been saved?