On Journeys and Destinations, Ends and Beginnings

Photo by  mostafa meraji  on  Unsplash   The Arba'een Pilgrimage is the world's largest annual public gathering that is held every year in Karbala, Iraq at the end of the 40-day mourning period following Ashura, the religious ritual for the commemoration of martyrdom of the grandson of Prophet Mohammad and the third Shia Imam, Husayn ibn Ali's in 680.

Photo by mostafa meraji on Unsplash

The Arba'een Pilgrimage is the world's largest annual public gathering that is held every year in Karbala, Iraq at the end of the 40-day mourning period following Ashura, the religious ritual for the commemoration of martyrdom of the grandson of Prophet Mohammad and the third Shia Imam, Husayn ibn Ali's in 680.

This summer, I will be taking a pilgrimage. I will be walking the Camino Frances across Spain, for a little over 500 miles. For me, it is as much a spiritual journey as a physical one. At this juncture in my life, I am in a deep place of discernment. From next steps in my personal life to contemplating what my vocational path may be, I am taking time out from “normal” life to walk, to contemplate, to adventure, to disconnect, to make new connections, and to be.

When I bought my round trip tickets two/from London (for $480!, thanks Skyscanner!), I framed my adventure with a beginning and an end. By choosing the destination, I committed to begin a journey. And this awareness brought a paradoxical realization:

The destination is just the start of another journey. The end is a new beginning.

Have you noticed how adventures, like stories, are framed by beginnings and endings; and yet, life goes on? Having a destination in mind is a a great start to a journey. You know the end. You have some idea where you are going, whether or not you know all of how you will get there. You lean into a possibility that is far on the horizon and you begin walking. It is the journey that forms you, it is the process that shapes you, and then when you reach the “end,” the journey continues. The process shifts. The adventure you thought was “over” continues in the form of the new moment, the new now, the next choices.

The destination is just the start of another journey. The end is a new beginning.

So maybe you feel like you are at the end of your road in a particular or profound element in your life. The journey isn’t over. If you are here, breathing, conscious, awake, your story continues. Perhaps you don’t know the next destination, perhaps you are not clear on the next path. Perhaps you find yourself in a season of discernment. I’m reminded of the words of the Psalmist: “She leads me in right paths for her namesake.” The spirit, the voice, the guide, beyond and within each and all of us is, I believe, humming. Stirring up. Guiding. I believe you and I have new roads to walk while we’re here, new opportunities to jump into wholeheartedly. New moments to sing, to laugh, to cry, to dance. Chance to lament and grieve, chance to make and to achieve, chance to rebuild and believe in a new adventure, new journey, growing you. So even as you make space for contemplation and consideration, also hold space for experimentation. As you allow yourself to be with, feel, and name the things to which you are present, also take chances, make mistakes, and get messy. As you wonder, don’t forget to wander. As you hold your ideas lightly, don’t forget to step lightly. As you remember what has been and consider what may be, do not lose sight of what is now. Remember…

The destination is just the start of another journey. The end is a new beginning.

So things are over, in one sense. That’s okay. This revelation is also a genesis.

As Brian McLaren says in the title of his book, “We Make the Road By Walking.” We carry the plotline of our lives forward by our movement, by our action, by our choice. What will you do? What will you create? Where will you go? Who and how will you be? Who will you become? Why?

The destination is the start of a journey, the end and beginning are one and the same.

As the time approaches, I’ll keep you posted on the aspects of my personal journey and pilgrimage, and know that I’m always open for comments and questions on this site or via email. Much love to you! Thank you for taking the time to join me on my journey, even at a distance.

May your new, courageous steps be filled with peace, my friend.

-Barefoot Ben