Friday, June 9, 2017

The Call of the Open Road

I begin with this from Walt Whitman:

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,
Strong and content I travel the open road.

The earth, that is sufficient,
I do not want the constellations any nearer,
I know they are very well where they are,
I know they suffice for those who belong to them.
(Still here I carry my old delicious burdens,
I carry them, men and women, I carry them with me wherever I go,
I swear it is impossible for me to get rid of them,
I am fill’d with them, and I will fill them in return.)

You road I enter upon and look around, I believe you are not all that is here,
I believe that much unseen is also here.
Here the profound lesson of reception, nor preference nor denial,
The black with his woolly head, the felon, the diseas’d, the illiterate person, are not denied;
The birth, the hasting after the physician, the beggar’s tramp, the drunkard’s stagger, the laughing party of mechanics,
The escaped youth, the rich person’s carriage, the fop, the eloping couple,
The early market-man, the hearse, the moving of furniture into the town, the return back from the town,
They pass, I also pass, any thing passes, none can be interdicted,
None but are accepted, none but shall be dear to me."
(From the "Song of the Open Road")
The more I serve others, the more convinced I am that all of us need a time to be away, to follow the call of the open road and restore our souls, whether across the country or down the street. So that we might in Whitman’s words: “Be Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms, Strong and content I travel to the open road.”

For what is to continue must find time to roam and return. I hold to this as dearly as my calling. I know that only by journeying out from you each resplendent summer can we find meaning once again in our return. People often ask why ministers have most of the summer out of their pulpits or away from their pianos. When you work 60 – 70 hours a week, you must have some time to recharge in order to serve again. This call to the open road, is more than just a much appreciated sabbatical, it is a spiritual practice. For only with it, are we able to serve again with new ideas, fresh energy and what wisdom we garner along the way.

Perched here on the edge of summer, I recall the sort of excitement that we all felt as school was about to end, and we had that great expanse of the summer before us, endless it seemed.  Most of us, now living in the adult world think of summer differently, the possibility of a small vacation, sure but other tasks and the heat to be contended with.
Nevertheless, I still commend summer as the best time to do the work of the soul.  That time of year when we travel figuratively and physically to new horizons and new ideas to be tried.  It is a season of pause, a time to reconsider the future.  In its implied rest, the summer is the space between our heart beats.  I commend to you this journey of the soul, to reflect on our place in the cosmos and to bring back.

Follow your call, and find your way home again.

With Grace and Grit, John