Like a bride following her husband in the desert

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

“We must have within ourselves some consciousness of this impelling power that may lead us to travel deliberately through our ages, realizing that the most wonderful adventures are not those which we go forth to seek.”

Frances Chesterton, The Open Road, The Parents’ Review, 1900, from The Woman Who Was Chesterton, Nancy Carpentier Brown, 2015

What bride would want to go into a desert or a wilderness for a honeymoon after she has had a beautiful wedding full of the promise of a good life? Its not a journey most of us today would take with enthusiasm. But listen to what God tells the prophet Jeremiah shortly after he lays upon him the mission to preach to a city that has abandoned the ways of God.

Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem that this is what the LORD says: ‘I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed Me in the wilderness, in a land not sown. Israel was holy to the LORD, the firstfruits of His harvest. All who devoured her found themselves guilty; disaster came upon them,’ ” declares the LORD.…

Jeremiah 2: 2-3

We are on this advent journey armed with a mixture of metaphors that possess a commonality about them. We are like Frodo and Sam off onto a journey they have never been on before, doing something they would rather not do yet excited by it all the same. We are like the bride from Jeremiah’s scripture who is setting off on this journey with the singular devotion of a young love, willing to trust her husband, God, no matter what may come or what it may lead us through before we arrive to see the Christ child born at Christmas again.

But we are also like Jeremiah, with the uncertain and growing darker times around us, knowing that our own will be against us as we travel deliberately. As I write this to encourage you, Beloved, are you not thinking “this doesn’t sound very encouraging”? It is not unlike what happens when Jesus calls both Phillip and Nathaniel to join him on His travels and Nathanial asks Phillip: “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” (John 14:6) Likewise, you may be asking “Can anything good come out of these times, if we do follow Jesus”?

Let us look back at the quote we opened our piece with from Frances Chesterton, beloved wife of G. K. Chesterton:

“…the most wonderful adventures are not those which we go forth to seek.”

Does this not also remind us of what Tolkien has Bilbo tell Frodo?

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

Yes, all journeys, no matter how modern travel has made us complacent about them, have an element of the unknown, even of danger. But we undertake them, because of an impelling power, as Frances aptly observes. And in this Advent, our impelling power to journey is the love of God, no matter what may come. Because we know where it leads.

Our journey’s end is Christ. He and heaven are the home we are to anticipate with joy at arriving. Everything we think we miss here along that way in the adventures of loss and gain that happen, are the road we must travel deliberately on our way to Him.

Our Advent Prayer

O blessed St. Joseph, who didst accompany Jesus and Mary in all their journeys, and who hast therefore merited to be called the patron of all travelers, accompany us in this journey that we are about to undertake.

Be our guide and our protector; watch over us; preserve us from all accidents and dangers to soul and body; support us in our fatigue, and aid us to sanctify it by offering it to God.
Make us ever mindful that we are strangers, sojourners here below; that heaven is our true home; and help us to persevere on the straight road that leads thereunto.

We beseech thee especially to protect and aid us in the last great voyage from time to eternity, so that, under thy guidance, we may reach the realm of happiness and glory, there to repose eternally with thee in the company of Jesus and Mary.

Amen Ora Pro Nobis

Beloved, may God go with you on this Advent journey and grant you and I courage!


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