“What matter / if we never arrive….?” asks R.S. Thomas in today’s poem. And the is a really crucial question, I think, about how we view the journey of faith. We use a lot of ‘journeying’ metaphors in thinking about our life with God – pilgrimage, journey, mountain-top, way, traveling companions… perhaps even ‘destination’? Or perhaps not. The place of the ‘destination’ in our journeying metaphors is not always clear. And perhaps, as Thomas suggests, it doesn’t need to be.
Looking at/for the destination can be a distraction from the journey itself. If we think we know where we’re going, we may be less attentive to where we are. This, I think, is something of what Thomas is getting at here. The destination is not the key consideration. The end does not take priority over the means.
Perhaps more important is how we journey. Thomas’ description of the (unnamed) birds in this poem is so evocative precisely because it concentrates less on the ‘what’ and more on the ‘how’. He captures something of the essence of the birds – very much as he captures something of the essence of God (also unnamed here, and frequently so in Thomas’ poetry). I wonder what is our essence, that shapes our journey? What is it about how we journey that is essential to us?
This year for #AdventBookClub we are reading “Frequencies of God: walking through Advent with R.S. Thomas” by Carys Walsh. Join the conversation on Twitter using #AdventBookClub or on Facebook by searching for the group ‘Advent Book Club’.