The Journey, Not the Destination

By Sister Mary Lou Mitchell, Director of Pastoral Care, St. Ann’s Community

 OnBeing.Org is a website which shares spiritual insights from diverse religious traditions. One of my favorite writers on this site is Omid Safi who recently shared this story:

While visiting in Japan, he decided to visit a 1,000 year old Shinto shrine located on a beautiful mountain. (Shinto is the ancient indigenous religion of Japan.) When he arrived at the site he was met by a spiritual guide who offered to accompany him up the mountain path. From the moment they started he noticed open gates overhead that marked the way. He also noticed that there were open gates along the side of the path.

After walking for over an hour, he stopped the guide and asked him how much farther ahead the shrine was. The guide seemed surprised by the question. After pausing for a moment he smiled, raised his arms over his head and all around, and said, “My friend, the whole mountain is the shrine!”

This stopped Omid in his tracks. He suddenly realized that in his western, linear mindset he was on a path to arrive at a destination; when he reached the destination, he would experience the sacred. Yet what this beautiful ancient spirituality believed was that our journeys are sacred from start to finish.

He concludes by saying: How lovely would it be to see each of our lives as the spiritual path we are invited to walk?

For God, value is not about rarity or quantity or the quality of something. God values the poor, the weak, and the fragile.

My heart resonates with this conclusion because I believe all of life is sacred. And there is no faith tradition that disagrees. In fact, most religions contain a belief that the “holy” is always in our midst. To acknowledge the holy is to recognize God’s presence in all that exists. All faiths maintain that God, regardless of how God is named, considers everyone and everything valuable. For God, value is not about rarity or quantity or the quality of something. God values the poor, the weak, and the fragile.

If we accept this truth, then we must value every detail of our lives and our world. When we don’t accept this, life can become expendable. Thus, I believe we are continually invited to live out of the reality that every aspect of our universe speaks to the wonder and beauty of God.

My prayer for the St. Ann’s Community is that we will continually accept and grow in this awareness!

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