For today’s young adults (and probably the generation of young adults before this one), metaphors of faith live and breathe in images of motion: journey, quest, voyage, exotic adventure. Think about it for a minute: how many Safari Adventure vacation bible schools did we attend during childhood summers? How many times have we sung the song Guide My Feet (…while I run this race)? How many youth group discussions did we participate in about how to bring the mountaintop experience of NYC or workcamp (places we traveled long and far to get to) back home?

I think we were taught – and now firmly believe – that faith flourishes only when we take it for a test drive, far away from where we learned it. There’s something to expanding our perspectives and encountering the world, I’m sure, and Lord knows I’ve certainly racked up my share of frequent flier miles working for the church. But I’m starting to question whether “journey” is the best way to think about faith and about life. Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, in his latest book, The Wisdom of Stability, asks these questions from his front porch at Rutba House (an intentional Christian community in Durham, North Carolina) reflecting on the Christian monastic traditions:

“For people who think little of flying across a continent, the assumption of Benedictine spirituality is striking: if we want our very being to rise up into God’s being, nothing is more important than rooting ourselves in a place where God can happen. Yes, we’re on a journey. But not all movement is progress toward the Promised Land.”

Yes, we’re on a journey, he reminds us, but not all movement is progress. What if we stood still for a while? What if, instead of falling into the caravan of wandering Israelites, we planted ourselves with the Psalmist’s tree by streams of water and let God teach us how to bear fruit in one place? What would happen – to us individually and to us as the Church of the Brethren?

What do you think? Is faith about roots or wings? African safaris or neighborhood block parties?

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