I am a graduate of Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. I recently received the Summer issue of the magazine, Xavier. The lead story entitled “Learning to Trust” features the journey of men studying to be Jesuit priests. As part of their training, the Jesuit Constitution directs all Jesuit novices to do a 30 day pilgrimage “without money…begging from door to door…to grow accustomed to discomfort in food and lodging.” The article states that in the Wisconsin province novices go off with $35.00, a one way bus ticket and an order to be home for dinner at 4:00PM, exactly 30 days later. The article continues, “The cash and the ticket only get them so far. The novices, most in their 20’s, must rely on their faith, their wits and the generosity of others to make it through.” For some the experience is frightening and for others energizing. But the lesson is always the same, the article states–personal vulnerability and complete trust in God. No cell phone, no I-pad, nothing, only the $35.00 and a one way bus ticket.
I have been familiar with this experience over the years, but surprised to read that the “pilgrimage” still exists. For Jesuit novices the pilgrimage is a powerful experience of learning to trust God, themselves and others. As I reflected on the article I thought of other “pilgrimages” people take in various walks of life that involve “personal vulnerability and complete trust in God”: families struggling in the midst of downsizing and difficult economic times never thinking they would go to a food pantry or need outside help, or a family welcoming a baby into their lives while juggling all the adjustments that go with more responsibility. Complete trust in God: the person who is terminally ill and wants to die, yet the journey is long having lost all independence and is dependent on others. Complete trust in God: the person living with the reality that decisions are made all around them in the work place and struggles to understand the lack of collaboration and inclusion. Complete trust in God: The person who discovers that their spouse has been unfaithful and struggles to go on. Complete trust in God: Homes and lives destroyed by natural and human disasters. The stories are endless where people everywhere seek to trust God completely.
In the Gospel of Luke (1:57-66, 80) from the Christian Scriptures, Elizabeth and Zachariah leave themselves open to trusting God completely. Although they do not know the outcome of the journey, they trust that the son they bore would be of strong spirit who will also trust in the God who created out of love and nurtures in love.
This nurturing God who journeyed with Elizabeth and Zachariah journeys with us in trust along every pilgrimage in our lives. Our God created us out of love and nurtures in love–this is our assurance in the midst of the situations of our lives that leave us vulnerable. Vulnerability calls us to trust. The only way to true freedom is to trust (trust: assured reliance on the character, ability, strength or truth of someone or something) in God, self, and others while experiencing vulnerability (vulnerability: lacking protection from danger or resistance against attack; capable of being hurt.)
Where are we called in our lives to trust completely in God, in our inner resources, in the unknown journey while leaving ourselves open for change in ways we never thought possible?
Our invitation is to embrace trust.
Blessings and peace,