“Follow My Path”

Posted by Dave

I “got away from it all” this past weekend at one of the growing number of religious retreats organized and led by the lay members of congregations. For Protestants, “The Walk To Emmaus” is a popular program of this type, while Catholics may attend similar sessions called ACTS (for Adoration, Community, Theology, and Service). What these and other such spiritual getaways have in common are a peer-run opportunity for reflection and renewal. (Lev Shalom, which is Hebrew for “heart peace,” has a related goal, but is led by rabbis).

Over a period of 60+ hours, veterans of previous weekends who were otherwise ordinary husbands and fathers like me (the ladies go to separate gatherings) shared their insights and testimonies with us new guys – who are known as “retreatants” or “pilgrims,” depending on the program. All of the stories touched me, but none more than the farmer who told of the joy he found as a small boy, riding on the tractor with his dad. Ultimately the day came when his father made the first few circuits of a field, then moved to one side and invited his son to sit behind the wheel. The son asked “What should I do?” And the patient father pointed at the rows already sown and replied, “Just follow my path.”

Those four words had an immediate and tangible impact on the crowd, dads and Believers (or at least Seekers), all. Ironically, in the discussion that followed, I got the impression that our presenter may not have realized their profundity. To him, he was just quoting what his own dad had said.

But the truth is, our children, students, and those who work for us do follow our paths, learning by our example. The challenge for us is to be sure that the lessons we teach are good, and are the ones we intended. And for that, we have examples of our own to guide us. The Torah, Bible, Koran, and Tao each offer lessons in following our Father’s path. (in fact – one common translation of “Tao” is: “path.”)

Weekend retreats “out of town” aren’t required for re-dedication. But – sometimes – the best way to find the right path is to get off the beaten one. I am so glad that I did.

 

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