The Spiritual Discipline of Journey

Stairs outside Chiang Mai, Thailand

exploring outside Chiang Mai, Thailand

“Journeys open up our spirit to the possibility of a reality it hasn’t yet grasped.”  Seth Barnes


The first time that I met Seth Barnes, was January of this year, 2012. I was sitting next to him in a room full of people, in a cabin in North Georgia. Randy and I had just said yes to being coaches on the World Race, this thing that we knew we were supposed to do, but didn’t yet fully understand. At that point, all we knew was that a group of 20 – 30 somethings would be traveling to 11 countries in 11 months and that our volunteer work would be to meet them at different points along their journey and “coach” them. We knew in our gut that we were supposed to respond with a yes.  At least Rands did. I was not so confident. As the boundaries around my time and space are newly forged, I was hesitant. It had been years since we’d yes to something, anything, without a lot of facts and research. For crying out loud, we took weeks to choose a refrigerator and there we were, within a few days of being asked, handing over a precious yes.


Honestly, the yes came out of trust in our friend Rozy, not out of any huge understanding of the organization or of what we were getting ourselves into. Clearly, my knowledge was limited, because at our coaches training, I was sitting next to the founder of AIM

[Adventures in Missions] and didn’t know who he was.


I didn’t know him, but, I recognized a fellow “life catcher” and scribe when I laid eyes on his journal. It was a simple, humble composition notebook. The kind with a black and white marbled cover, that you can get every back-to-school-season in the US for about fifty cents. A plain notebook, filled with words and lists and ideas. Of course, I asked about it right away. It turned out that, like the man, the book was humble externally, yet filled with brilliance.


“Tell me about your journal.”


And he did.


The magnetic pull of that journal, soon had me caught up in one of the most fascinating conversations of my life. I now know, that I was hearing bits and pieces from the book, Kingdom Journeys.


Kingdom Journeys book, passport and travel journal

passport & Nairobi page in my WR travel journal

I love good stories, which means I love good conflict. Part of the reason that I am passionate about capturing personal narrative is because when you begin to document your own story, you inevitably find tension. And, it is in conflict, paradox and tension, that we find God. Seth walks in Pilgrimage and Journey, in the same way that I embrace journaling & artistic practice – as a spiritual discipline.  He says on page 18 of Kingdom Journeys:


“I will always think of Chiapas as the place where my journeys collided. It took a physical journey to complete a spiritual one.”


And later, he speaks of Restlessness.  A sensation that can be a curse and lead to vain wanderings or be a motivator, a gift, that can lead to a calling.

“Traditional peoples found ways to turn the Curse of Restlessness into the Git of Restlessness by weaving it into the sacred.  They made a spiritual discipline out of leaving. some call it a pilgrimage or a rite of passage or an initiation experience… The essence has always been about tapping into restlessness to help people discover the divine at work: both in the world and in themselves.  Their journey turned the curse in the Gift it was meant to be.”


So, true. A year ago Randy and I didn’t know that the World Race and AIM existed. We had no idea that we would journey to far-flung places with our beloved D Squad. We had no idea that our hearts would be shifting and expanding to hurt big and love big. After our last trip, I wrote:

I am no longer satisfied with a comfortable, small existence. I understand that I must stretch my courage and my heart. Painful? I expect so. Maybe, there will even be more pain. God help me. Fear, stand aside. I am discovering what I am made of. I am made of vulnerability and I am in total dependence on God. Safety is no longer an option.



Elephant ride in Thailand jungle

Elephant ride in Thailand jungle

“All of us are on a journey. We can’t escape the beginning and the end, but the middle is full of crazy possibilities.”

pg. 23 Kingdom Journeys


For a free download of Seth Barnes’ book Kingdom Journeys: Rediscovering the Lost Spiritual Discipline, go HERE.  [through September 29, 2012]