Last month, Britta and I had a chance to go to Germany and, for the very first time, see our granddaughter, Norah. That’s right, our granddaughter! It was a beautiful trip with lots of family visits and good German food – even for Britta, a native German, it was a journey of new experiences. For Britta, seeing her homeland through my eyes has brought her a new perspective on familiar things. For me, it’s all new and for her it’s new again.
While there, we set aside four days to go hiking in the Black Forest. On the first day, after taking five trains, two cars and a bus we arrived at the trail head in the little town of Blumberg in beautiful southern Germany. After a short walk through the village, the trail took us off the beaten path. As we turned a corner, we left the main road and walked up a grassy, gentle green hill. And as we reached the crest and rounded a bend the trail led directly into tall dark trees and I had the sense for the first time that “now we’re really going into the Black Forest.” Our journey had begun.
For three days, we had destinations to reach, a new bed and breakfast each night. Along the way, streams, waterfalls, pastures, saw mills, chapels, villages, lakes, sheep, goats, cows, lots of woods, thousands of mushrooms in every shape, size and color and the occasional fellow backpacker. Mostly it was the two of us and nature. At the end of each long, tired day – backpacks down, boots off, beer and a local German dinner. It was a wonderful trip.
As we entered the woods on that first day I remember thinking “this is it.” Each day a thousand surprises awaited us. Each one was “it.” I noticed I’m always looking for “it.” God, I suppose. What the trip reminded me is what the saints and mystics know so well – that we experience the infinite in the finite. The extraordinary is in the ordinary. Not just in the Black Forest, but here at my desk in Novato, CA. Norah’s eyes are “it.” Britta is “it.”
It’s sometimes said: “It’s not about the destination, but about the journey.” I propose that it’s about both – the joy and clarity of having a vision, a destination, a purpose and welcoming everything – and I mean everything – that comes along the way. Francis of Assisi taught not to miss the “little” things along the way. Because the physical is the door way to the spiritual. Time to timelessness. Space to spacelessness. Earth to heaven. If we have the eyes to see, there are a thousand journeys while we make the big journey. All are an invitation to the Divine.