There are no maps to consult for where we all end up. We are, each of us, headed somewhere without our consent, with no idea even where we’re going or how we’re going to get there. There are rumors about maps and routes, but no one has ever returned to talk about it, much less show the way.
Yes, we Christians claim that Christ did just that thing ~ took off on what is usually a one-way journey and turned it into a round-trip. But even if he were telling the truth, he was cagey about the way to get There. And when some asked about it, his answer was more mysterious than the question: “I am the way,” he said. Umm, thanks, but that doesn’t exactly clear it up. What do you mean you are the way? Will you be our guide? Or do you mean that following your example is the way to get to where you are? Or do you mean that by your death on the cross, you paved the way for all who take refuge in you in this life? With all due respect, what the hell did you mean?
I think what he meant was that he wants us to emulate him, and that if we do so in life, we will do so in death. I think he intended to only leave little traces in the meantime, breadcrumbs, maybe just a compass, but no road map. No GPS coordinates. Just the faintest trace of a way. Just a book about how to live. Just some nods in death’s direction. But no clear-cut path was blazed for us to follow. No step-by-step directions on how to get there. In spite of what many of his followers might say–or think–we live (we Christians) by faith, not by a set of coordinates. Or rules. Or to-do lists.
They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul. What I wouldn’t give to see Jesus face to face, to look him in the eyes. What would they tell me? What would I see? I think I know. I would see the way. To death. And to life beyond death. In the meantime, I follow the contours of his face in the stories of his life. In the lives of his people. In the people I know and love. That’s the best we’ve got. And I’ll take it. For now.