Walking the Good Road – Br. Lain Wilson

Mark 10:28-31

As the days have been getting longer, I’ve been taking advantage by going for late evening walks in the woods surrounding Emery House. Day gives way to night, and the woods are transformed. Although I’ve walked these paths dozens of times now, I feel that I encounter something new each time—grazing deer, the shape of a tree, the color of the sky. I try to walk without the aid of a flashlight, not only trusting my own experience of the trails but also being open to their illumination by a different light.

The First Nations Version (FNV), an Indigenous translation of the New Testament, renders the familiar “kingdom of God” as “Creator’s good road.” This is particularly striking in the teaching on wealth leading up to this evening’s Gospel passage, where Jesus notes that “finding and walking the good road is a hard thing for the ones who have many possessions,” and “the ones who trust in their many possessions will have a hard time finding their way onto the good road” (Mk 10:23, 25, FNV).

We’ve all walked somewhere carrying heavy bags, focused so much on the weight that we ignore so much else.

Finding and walking the good road, then, is about being unencumbered—by things, by fears and expectations and failures and memories and all the stuff that we insist on carrying with us, convinced that all of it matters to who we are. We find safety and security and self-definition in this stuff, and we are bent over by the weight of it. We can’t hope to find and walk the good road under that weight.

But this is also about our perspective: how we see, the light by which we seek and perceive the good road. I was so surprised to discover how clearly the paths in the woods revealed themselves by moonlight. I could see these same paths by flashlight, but that light left me blind to their relationship to their surroundings. It was like trying to walk without peripheral vision—I could follow the path directly in front of me, but at the expense of losing all reference points, any sense of the connectedness of things.

Finding and walking the good road then is about both risk and trust. When we risk—when we forgo a flashlight, when we accept or choose insecurity—we trust not only that the road will be revealed, but that we will find on it things we could not have expected. “No one who has given up homes and families to follow me and walk my good road will go without,” Jesus assures his disciples. “In this present world they will become part of an even greater family, with many homes and lands” (Mk 10:29-30, FNV). When we risk, when we trust, we discover unexpected, unsought-after graces.

What are you called to risk? We are beginning the long, green season after Pentecost, preparing to walk with Jesus as he travels the road of his earthly ministry. We’ll be walking with him day after day, week after week, for the next six months. What do you cling to that may weigh you down on this journey? What are you called to risk—or, perhaps better, what do you dare to risk? And how might you learn to look differently, to shift your perspective? How might you be open to unexpected grace?

But whatever you do, you probably won’t do it perfectly. I still cling to things. I still carry a flashlight with me on those walks in the woods. I risk and I trust, yes, but I still walk the good road imperfectly. And this is okay. This is okay, because I’m not on my own; I’m not the only one walking this path. I can find and walk the path in large part because of all the feet that have walked it before me—from the first trailblazers to those whose shuffling steps compress the dirt and make clear the way. Now I add my own steps, participating in this great project of defining the path on the landscape. And we can follow Jesus, perhaps imperfectly, but trusting that we are helping, in small and subtle ways, to inscribe the Creator’s good road deeper and deeper onto our world.

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7 Comments

  1. Emma Price on May 23, 2024 at 08:26

    I treasure the phrase “creator’s good road.” It is much easier to picture in my mind than “kingdom of God.” Thank you

  2. Michael Bill on May 23, 2024 at 07:45

    Brother Laine,
    Thank you for this breath of pure air!

  3. Dee Dee on May 23, 2024 at 07:03

    Your words have provided comfort, inspiration, and a new perspective on the scriptures for me today. I’m curious to know more about the FNV and I will try to lay down some of my baggage and trust the path before me. Thank you, Br Lain.

  4. Michael Ricca on May 23, 2024 at 06:57

    Dear Br. Lain,

    Thank you for these words, words I needed to hear today. And thank you for the inspiring illumination.

  5. Cameron on May 23, 2024 at 06:25

    These are inspiring words, Br. Lain. I appreciate your inclusion of indigenous wisdom, yet another light by which we walk our trails in these troubled times. As a result of multiple leg injuries, I can no longer walk the highways and byways in the way I was accustomed. The paradoxical gift of grace: I have learned more about how to walk with trust in God, to be ever so grateful for the steps I am able to take. Blessings on you and all the Brothers.

    • Sharon on May 23, 2024 at 11:30

      I love your imagery and the clarity you add to the Scriptures. Your inspirational words, inspire me to walk the path less encumbered but first I have to figure out what they are. Thank you for your wisdom!

  6. Andrea Andresen on May 23, 2024 at 05:06

    Thank you for sharing such a relatable image. It really resonated and challenged me to think about what am I carrying and what might I be missing by wanting to rely on “a torch”.

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