“They visited with Jesus, they sure enjoyed their stay,
But then warned in a dream about King Herod’s scheme,
They went home by another way” (James Taylor, “Never Die Young” album, 1998).
I’m boarding a flight from LA to Albuquerque for the US-6 meeting. I had a great visitation with both Luis Aponte-Merced and Charlie Smiech. But it came to me again that these travels offer me an option: to go the way of hypervigilance, worry, and the consequent lack of manners that can accompany that way for me, or to choose to notice my tendency to anxiety and turn my life over the care of God. I’m leaving after celebrating the Mass of the Epiphany, with its story of the scheming King Herod, the original Grinch. The historical Herod had members of his own family executed for fear of their overthrow of his reign. His duplicitous telling the Magi that he’d like to go and offer homage to the newborn King became obvious to these kings in a dream. They courageously choose to “go home by another route,” another way, not following the wish of a legitimate authority in order to obey God’s deeper desire.
I’ve said at our Chapter that pilgrimage has a way of moving us into liminal space where our lives can notice the “way things are” in order to possibly alter those, to choose “another way.” My anxieties around travel (“Will I make it on time?” “Will I make the next connecting flight?” “Will I be stuck next to an obnoxious traveler?”) can multiply. They can grow like unresistant mold. But to travel by another way is to breathe, notice what is controlling my spirit, then enfold these concerns to Someone who loves me and can offer a new way forward. This hypervigilance is part of how I learned to “make it” in the world. But they are the way of Herod. James Taylor sings: “Steer clear of royal welcomes; avoid a big to do. A king who would slaughter the innocents, will not cut a deal for you.”
I suspect that we all have some anxieties as we move on our liminal pilgrimage towards becoming the new Our Lady of Guadalupe Province. The Provincial Team called the US-6, formed of six provincials and three wise advisors, has given more definition to our way forward. But for all of us, peace comes in the turning our lives over to God, our Higher Power. By letting go of control that really does not belong to us, but is an illusion, we learn to trust our Inner Star to lead us in our journey. We follow another route, another way to get to home. It is the way of the pilgrim, who is not a tourist, but allows this journey to become her/his true self. It is the way of Mary and Joseph who flee into Egypt until the angel tells them to return to Nazareth. It is the way of the kings. It is the way of the poor. It is the way of the Cross, leading to the home of God’s kingdom.
—Mark Soehner, OFM