Travel Light

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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The cliché that it’s not the destination but the journey that matters is, of course, silly. If the destination didn’t matter, the journey wouldn’t either. What gives a journey its momentum—its telios—is, in fact, the destination, even if that destination is “nowhere.” And therein lies the trouble.

If one’s destination is to become rich, for example, one finds upon looking back on the journey that it wasn’t a journey much worth taking. Similarly, if one’s metaphorical journey in life is to become famous, one will look back on a life lived for that purpose and see that, in the end, it didn’t add up to much. As it turns out, the destination makes all the difference in the world.

Last summer, my wife, my dog, and I took a road trip from southern California to Jamestown, North Dakota, and back, and we took the long way around in both directions, covering 13 states in all. Had we had no destination of any kind, the journey itself would have been meaningless and tedious. There were days, in fact, where we didn’t have a specific destination, and those were great days—but great only because we had an ultimate destination in mind. We had direction. Side trips are side trips precisely because a main route exists to follow. With no main routes, side trips would cease to be. Shadows come only from light—side trips and meandering walks can happen only because there is a side to begin with, a place to meander from. Just because the fashion these days is to take existential ambles down life’s lanes does not mean it’s a good idea. Not all who wander are lost, true, but those who do nothing but wander were never on a journey to begin with. A journey, by its very definition, assumes a destination.

BUT (and there’s always a “but”), as Christians, we will not find our final destination in this life. This is not our home, and we are not to “make ourselves at home” here, at least not in the final sense. All other places before our heavenly Home will, as one of my favorite writers puts it, “fret us like a cage.” Meaning that in this life, all we can do is journey! That’s all life is, even if you’ve stayed put in the same town all of your life. Because it’s not finally about the ground you cover but the fields you till. That’s the Christian journey: to till whatever soil you happen to be on with the Word—the joy of Christ. And that’s a journey whose destination is worth reaching.

A young backpacker came upon an old hermit’s cottage. It was all but bare, with just a chair, table, a cot, and some books. The young man asked the hermit, “Where’s all your stuff?”

“Where’s yours?” the hermit returned.

The backpacker, a bit taken aback, answered, “But I’m just passing through.”

“So am I,” said the hermit. “So am I.”