I made a decision to begin this journey with no notions of what I would find. I believed I was open to gathering stories whatever they may be. At the time of leaving, I carried two volumes with me. I can only guess why I choose them, but my tome companions were “ King James Bible” and “Wisdom of Insecurity” by Alan Watts. So I guess, I was not only peering at physical realms but also those of a spiritual nature. It is likely that by traveling lightly, I could have better access to where these kingdoms meshed. Traveling in the physical sphere provides allegory for roaming in other worlds. Both journeys provide forks in the road where decisions concerning which way to proceed must be made. Today’s reflection revolves around our spiritual relationship in family. Having just visited my family of origin, I was headed to another family--my wife and four year old daughter. I was leaving them both behind while conducting this search.
I was aware of Jesus’ message asking that we leave our families to follow him. Another of his statements admonished that if we could not leave our parents, siblings, and other family behind, we could not be worthy of the Kingdom. I was not certain of the meaning of this but was willing to turn from my blood relations to commence this journey. These are not straightforward or clear choices to make. For instance how far away from my family must I separate. At this time, there seemed a preponderance of spiritual communities vying for individual’s allegiance. Many of these also demanded that members separate from their families of origin. This brought into play another aspect of combining spiritual and material worlds. The main selling point of spiritual groups of people was that by joining, all material needs would be provided.
All that was asked was turn your back on this world and all this world could be regained. I remembered Jesus meeting the Tempter who offered him all that he could see if he but swore allegiance. Jesus famous response, “Get thee behind me, Satan.” I could not detect much difference with today’s groups offering all the desires of my heart should I swear loyalty to them. Some even used the Jesus name for their associations. But there were others, ranging from followers of Sun Myung Moon to cults whose leaders used the name of Christ. There were others whose leaders adopted the title Guru, Rinpoche or others of Eastern origin that denoted ascendancy above mere mortals. All these groups seemed to demand a commitment to their leader. By so doing, even to those using God’s names, I felt like I was being asked to have other god’s before Thee. These were the depth and breadth of my ponderings while I meandered and sat along the cliffs heading north from New York City. I preferred to rely upon Jesus’ message advising when we are presented with an offer to go somewhere to find him, “[sic] Do not go, that is where false prophets dwell.”
Having spent the larger portion of the day with these musings, I felt the urge to continue my travels. Getting to the New York Thruway , I joined company with another traveler. Andrew was on the road also. He traveled even lighter than I did, his only possession a worn bible. Andrew was adopting the task of following the teaching to take nothing for our journey, but to trust that he would be provided for. The refreshing thing about Andrew was he was not trying to sell me anything or get me to follow him. He was only on his journey following the guidance and beliefs that he held individually. It was after midnight when we were let off at the intersection of the New York Thruway with the Northway Extension. It was mild, dark and quit. I left Andrew and walked over a rise and found a large contingent of travelers gathered round a campfire, settling in for the evening. They offered to share with me some light fare and a place to rest. They did not demand my faithfulness or submission to a person or belief system. I choose to camp there for the night.