In one way 2020 has been a true blessing as it brought us two more grandchildren; a great joy to be sure, but as one was born in Austria a week before lockdown and the other in Aberdeen after the introduction of a two week quarantine for people coming from France, we still haven’t held either of them in our arms. Hopefully though that will change soon, at least with regard to our Austrian grandson, as we hope to make it to Austria for his baptism next week.
The journey to Austria however is a long one and involves crossing a few countries and therefore needs some serious planning. But how do you plan such a trip in times of such uncertainty when every day rules change? Will the countries we will need to cross, allow us through? Will we find ourselves stuck somewhere because suddenly the country we come from or are going through is on the red list? Will we have to go into quarantine when we get home? (like so many British holiday makers stuck in France or Spain )
So many uncertainties, so many fears… for all of us of course.
In the bible there are many people who went on journeys with no idea what to expect, some like Abraham didn’t even know where they were going, others saw the plans of their journey regularly changed, yet they had one certainty, that whatever happened God was with them. And so they traveled on.
When Ian and I walked on the Camino we learnt a pilgrim song which encourages the pilgrim to walk on. The refrain: Ultreïa ! Ultreïa ! E sus eia, Deus adjuva nos ! (which translates roughly : “onward and upward God with us”) is an encouragement telling the pilgrim to move on both physically and spiritually, God helping.
To me that pilgrim spirit, that not knowing what is ahead and yet walking on in faith, is what we need most in the months and may be even years ahead. We have no idea what lies ahead of us, and life may never be the same again, but let’s not lose hope, for God goes with us wherever our journey will take us.
Which means that despite all the uncertainties we can, and should, still plan for the future as did the German reformer Martin Luther, who surely lived in uncertain times and who said in those desperate circumstances: “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”
May God bless you all with hope and faith in our own uncertain times and encourage you to plant your own “apple tree”.
Ultreïa ! Ultreïa ! E sus eia, Deus adjuva nos !