As a part of my formation for the Priesthood, I have recently been blessed with the opportunity to study Spanish in Antigua, Guatemala. This is my fourth time in Latin America, having traveled to Mexico several times and Honduras as well. What is unique about this trip is not so much the encounter with a different culture, but rather an encounter with an extension of my own culture.
While here in Antigua, I have frequently (if not daily) come into contact with Americans and other travelers from around the world. They tend to be in their early 20’s, and often they have a rather adventurous feel to them. They come from a variety of backgrounds. There are Evangelical Christians who seem to have a zeal for coming to a foreign land, and there are more secular young adults who seem to be captivated by the idea of traveling and experiencing something new. There are also the romantic idealists who come to this country with the goal of “making a difference.” All of them engage the culture with a zeal and energy that has both its advantages and disadvantages.
Overall, I think all of these groups have the common goal of adventure. There is something about such passion that should cause us to reconsider our own lives. Personally, I have a similar adventurous streak in me. When was younger, I remember hearing people talk about how such enthusiasm and zeal dissipates with age, and I remember being offending at such cynicism.
I still am.
Although I still travel and have a zeal for discovering new things, I have changed as I have gotten older. What I have discovered as I have gotten older is that the adventure has not ended, but that it has grown into a more interior journey. I have learned that while traveling is fun, what is far more important is deepening relationships. The first relationship which has proven the greatest source of adventure is my relationship with Jesus Christ, and through him, with the Most Holy Trinity. This relationship is deeply interior and personal, and it is greater than any travels I have undertaken.
When I was younger, I longed to see something new in the world. I wanted to go to those places that I had only seen in pictures. Now, my longing for the Lord has proven to be a greater source of blessings and growth. St. John of the Cross writes about this so eloquently in his work. He talks about the wounds of love in which we suffer with longing for the Lord. These wounds touch the heart, and make us yearn to know more of our Beloved. What had been about the externals has now become incredibly interior. The adventure has become about entering into the heart, and there in the depths, to encounter the Lord who is both above all things and yet intimately united with all of reality.
This interior adventure then overflows into our relationships with others. From this interior font, the common, everyday reality suddenly takes on a new, heightened fecundity and joy. When we have learned to enter into the heart, our daily lives become filled with excitement. In this sense, we are called to have the same desire for adventure that I have found here in Antigua. However, this zeal does not have to lead us to travel to far off lands, but rather it should compel us to deepen our friendships with God and neighbor. Ultimately, adventure is about discovering the newness that is continually offered in authentic friendships, the most incredible friendship being with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.