“Do not follow where the path may lead.
Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Tales of mountainous adventures have always been a part of my childhood. It was a special treat to hear my Dad’s tales of exploration as I dozed off to sleep with images of expansive starry skies, summit attempts at the crack of dawn and grizzly bears roaming through camp. Deep within me a fire had started: little by little sticks were thrown on and the fire grew and is still burning. This fire is the fire of adventure, travel, exploration and self-discovery. After a recent return from spending an eye-opening year in the Democratic Republic of Congo I have become much more grateful for the opportunity to travel and go on adventures. I have also begun to question the motives behind adventure and travel: how is this not a selfish endeavour? who is benefiting from these pursuits? Is it only for me, for my own personal growth? how could I spend my money elsewhere? Am I doing more harm then good? I have had various opinions in regards to these questions and have come to believe that God has placed on some people’s hearts a true burning desire to “go forth,” and there is no way to ignore this calling. As long as through our own personal growth and transformation we share what God has revealed through us to others then it is not a selfish endeavour. It is an opportunity to light up a fire in someone else’s heart towards how great and beautiful our Creator is. It is also an opportunity to share with others the reality and truth of how our fellow brothers and sisters in the world are living in poverty and unjust conditions. To have the opportunity to go forth and discover a different culture, people, country, religion than one’s own is one that will add new dimensions and perspectives to one’s life and of course increase one’s knowledge.
Relating back to the encyclical “Caritas in veritate,” when it comes to gaining knowledge, in terms of through travel, it will be sterile without love, and our acts of love without knowledge are blind. If we go to a country and do not try to understand where these people are coming from and simply impose our ideals upon them our charity will not be fruitful. Love is rich in intelligence and intelligence is rich in love. We need to understand, acknowledge, respect and enter into dialogue with others for “charity in truth” to blossom.
So this fire within to “go forth,” and to speak the truth in love is leading me down many new paths in the upcoming weeks. My feet are yearning to traverse across rough ground, to scramble high to new heights. And like R.W. Emerson says “go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Why not, right?
So…where will my feet take me?….