Sunday, January 27, 2013

the people of The Way

Caravaggio's THE CONVERSION OF ST. PAUL, 1601

On his journey, as he was nearing Damascus,
a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him.
He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him,
“Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”
He said, “Who are you, sir?”
The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.

Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do.” 
The men who were traveling with him stood speechless,
for they heard the voice but could see no one.
Saul got up from the ground,
but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing;
so they led him by the hand and brought him to Damascus.
For three days he was unable to see, and he neither ate nor drank.

There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias,
and the Lord said to him in a vision, Ananias.”
He answered, “Here I am, Lord.”
The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight
and ask at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul. 
He is there praying,
and in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias
come in and lay his hands on him,
that he may regain his sight.”

~Acts of the Apostles, chapter 9

A few days ago we celebrated the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, and I’ve been pondering that striking story.

Earlier in the book of Acts, we hear that the early Christians called themselves the people of “The Way. Am I the only one amused that when Saul is blinded by a vision from God he is sent to a street in Damascus called Straight where he is to wait for the Lord’s messenger. How about that for godly directions--Go Straight and wait for the Way!

I think it's downright merciful that God’s messages are not always that blunt.

Scene from the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage

In Spanish, the word “camino” is both a noun and a verb

The noun translates as “the way”—and the verb tense literally means, “I walk.”

I do believe that following God’s will comes down to taking a step and waiting for the vision to become clearer. It may feel like crossing a bridge in deep fog, but I commit to walking that way until the fog clears--and then I pray that it becomes self-evident whether I am to continue or change directions.

As a follower of and member of  the people of The Way, that is my task, to continue to walk towards God.