It’s a common theme to talk about spirituality as being a journey. The metaphor works because there is so much change that takes place in everyone’s life that to call it a journey takes some of the pressure off.
Lately, the journey metaphor is even being used in business circles where long, drawn out projects are being viewed through the lens of a journey, rather than offering up a finite end point. In this case, the usefulness provides everyone a safe place to engage in further conversation and discussion to reach the objective, rather than run the risk of getting bogged down in the shame and blame game.
But here’s the thing. What happens when what started out as a journey is really more like a tourist trip?
Just this week, one of the world’s spiritual leaders – Pope Francis – made the comment that too many people are engaging in a form of theological tourism – going around in circles in life, but never making a step forward.
Many people choose to be spiritual tourists for a reason or a season. They may sample a variety of faiths, traditions and practices, but never really settle on any one thing. Pope Francis cautions against this.
But I would say that this too is an opening. What we are doing is expanding our mind to encompass all the teachings. The question we need to ask ourselves though is are we being tourists – just sampling the local wares – or are we engaging in a deeper understanding that is enriching our lives?
Michael A. Singer, in his book The Untethered Soul, describes spirituality as an infinite journey where we make the commitment to “go beyond (ourselves) no matter what it takes.”
We are now in the closing weeks before the Easter season is upon us. It’s an opportunity to take stock of what we want our spirituality to look like.
It’s also time to open to a more gentle way of being with ourselves. When we move from being a tourist to being a traveler, we deepen our appreciation of not only where we wish to go, but where we have been. We can see that our backpacks have become lighter. We can assess for ourselves whether we are in the flow of life, working with it, or working in opposition to it.
Travelling can be exhausting, or you can have the time of your life. But it’s the investment in the experience that makes it worthwhile.
Being a tourist can be a bit like going to a buffet – you’re full, but you can’t remember a thing about what you ate.
Go deeper. And when the Lenten season is done, you’ll have prepared your mind to truly indulge with a richer spirituality that you previously may have imagined.