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Of Thresholds and Peregrinatio

October 27, 2018

As I continue my journey with Abbess Christine Valters Paintner in her book “The Soul’s Slow Ripening” I consider the themes in Chapters One and Three. Both called out to me and so even though I am reading out of order, that is her intent for the soul as we savor the book.

Chapter One considers Thresholds… the call to sit in the in-between times, as we contemplate where God is calling us to go. When Denise and I hiked up to Lake Haiyaha in the Rocky Mountain National Park yesterday, we came upon this tree as we clambered over the boulder field to the lake. It immediately reminded us of a door… in fact, Denise said it looked like an Elfin Door… yes, a door of mystery that you would miss unless your heart was attuned to the journey and the Spirit’s Call.

As we bent down to walk through this doorway, we were rewarded with an amazing view of the Lake.

As I contemplate the times God has called me forward into new paths of life and service, there has often been a time of reflection and waiting. From the call which I answered to serve God in ministry (God is indeed patient and even though I ignored the first call, God called me again in College and I answered) to the call to serve once more as a Pastor following twenty-one years as an Air Force Chaplain, I have been on that Threshold.

In the same way, as I reflect upon Chapter Three (“The Practice of Peregrinatio and Seeking Your Place of Resurrection”), I look back to the places I have wandered and roamed in my service to God these past thirty-one years in ministry.

In the history of the Irish Monks and the Desert Mothers and Fathers, these servants of Christ often went off on their journey as Abram and Sarai did in the Hebrew Scriptures. God told them to go… without a specific destination… only to trust and go in God’s name.

When I answered the call of God to Ministry in 1980, I had no clue where the journey would take me. I had the picture in my heart from my call of service in uniform as a Chaplain, but no idea what that really meant. Following my pastorate in Northwest Minnesota from 1987-1990, I pulled up stakes with my family and headed to Texas. In twenty-one years I would crisscross this country and globe in my own Peregrinatio… Texas to England and back to Texas… to Nevada for two different assignments… to North Dakota and then back to England… finally back to Florida where I would finish my AF career and transition back into the parish.

The longest time we lived in one place was four years (Nevada)… the shortest time was a year in San Antonio, Texas for Clinical Pastoral Training. In between these assignments, I spent time in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Southwest Asia, and Grenada on temporary duty.

I quite literally never knew where I was going next, except for the fact that I was always moved to “meet the needs” of the USAF! That is the blessing and the challenge of following the way of the Peregrinatio… as the Irish Monks set out from Ireland in a coracle (round boat with no rudder) trusting in the Spirit to blow them to where they were supposed to go, I guess I trusted as well in the same Spirit to guide me in this journey of life, faith, and service.

From the USAF back to the Presbyterian Church (USA) with calls in Florida and Colorado, I now find myself serving God in the midst of this beautiful creation where we have just as many four-legged neighbors as we do two!

Rocky Mountain Bull Elk in Moraine Park.

Rocky Mountain Mule Deer in Moraine Park.

Rocky Mountain Yellow-Bellied Marmots on Old Fall River Road.

American Pika near Rock Cut in the Rocky Mountain National Park.

Bull Moose in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Mama Moose and Calf in the Rocky Mountain National Park.

Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep.

Baby Elk Calf next to our Condo.

The journey is the destination as I consider all the places God has called me to serve. The Peregrinatio Pro Christo… the call to wander for the love of Christ… that is the call which I believe I have been responding to for all these years. For the Love of Christ I am called to serve! This wandering is, in the words of Abbess Christine, an invitation to let go of our own agendas and discover where God is leading.

In the words of JRR Tolkien in The Lord of the Rings — Not all who wander are lost…

May God bless and guide you, dear reader, as you seek to follow the call in your own life.

  1. A beautiful memoir of your faithful journeying with God. Thanks for sharing these inspiring thoughts and lovely images with us. Bless you, Michael, for following wherever God leads you to and being such a supportive friend to so many companions along the way. 😊💜

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