“Where we going?” I ask Nacho as we board the Metro train. He never really told me for sure, and there were a few options. I think we are going to the Cathedral, but I chuckle as Nacho responds…
“I don’t know?”
I wonder to myself, “Why is he saying ‘I don’t know’?” I can actually think of a couple different reasons. “I don’t know,” is the common response given by a person while they are learning a language. I say it all the time. It is my default answer if I didn’t really understand the question, and I just want to avoid the hassle of a complicated explanation. Nacho is learning English, so maybe he didn’t understand me.
There is also a legitimate reason why he might have said, “I don’t know.” The trip to the Cathedral via the Metro is a bit far, and though he may know where we are going, he may not know the exact route that will take us there. We’ll have to follow the map and learn as we go. I have often responded this way when I know where I’m going, but don’t know how to get there. For me, it usually comes with the tag line, “… we’ll burn that bridge when we get there.”
There is also the literal interpretation. Perhaps Nacho really doesn’t know where we are going. I don’t know.
Nacho and I are a part of a generation which often replies, “I don’t know.” We are often criticized for not having any direction, any goals. We don’t buy into social conventions. We try something for a while, then change our minds, and then do something else. With a life expectancy of 80 years, why should we rush decisions? There is no hurry. For this casual attitude, we often get criticized for being aimless, and trivial.
I, and a few of my friends in the theater community, are rarities in my generation. We entered college with a degree program, and four years later, graduated in the same degree program. The typical college student now changes majors two to three times, and graduates from a four year program in five or six years.
The funny thing is, even if you ask mis compañeros who graduated in the straight and narrow track, where they are going today, they’ll probably respond, “I don’t know.”
I respect the response of my generation, because I think we are honest. We don’t know where we are going. How can we? We haven’t been there before? I gently chuckle when I talk to people thirty years my senior, and they doubt the decisions that they have made and wonder what the future holds. Where they right? Were they wrong? Where are they going now? They don’t know, though they have often given the paper-thin appearance of self-assurance to us young-ins. My generation gets frustrated because we are often pressured into thinking that we are supposed to have everything figured out, when those leading us are just as lost as we are. Why criticize us for being honest?
I’ll stop defending my generation for just a moment. I know there is a reason we get criticized, and it isn’t because we don’t know where we are going. It is really because many of us lack direction. It is acceptable to not know where you are going if you have a direction. We call that pioneering, exploring, adventuring.
Nacho’s reply doesn’t worry me in the least, because he and I know why we have left the house and boarded the train. We’re going to visit a church. That was decided before we woke up. We have a direction, even if we don’t know where we are going.
I can still hear my Junior year history teacher shouting at my class like it was yesterday, “The goal of your life is to make it to heaven, every thing else is secondary.”
“Great!” I thought to myself, “That means I don’t have to worry about passing this history test... it is secondary.”
I experienced a tremendous freedom when he said those words. It helped me realize that, “This test is just a test…. nothing more.” Now I can relax, and do my best on the test without worrying about the results. It is part of the path I am taking to reach my ultimate destination, but it is not the destination itself.
In surrender, there is a sweetness that surprises the soul.
When a person “gives up,” and admits that s/he is a just person, and not God, the person is liberated to be the fullest version of him/herself that s/he can be. For many months I wrestled with the decision to make this pilgrimage. “Should I do it?” “Should I just stay home?” “Where will it lead?” “What does God want of me?” “How will this make a difference?”
Eventually, I just gave up on my petty self-concerns. I said from my heart, “…Thy will be done.” “I surrender.”
And when I did that, there was an enormous liberation that I experienced. If I can TRULY give EVERYTHING over to God, then I don’t need to worry about my success or failure. I’m not attached to either. God can use my failures, in the same way that God can use my successes. God can use me if I last for another three months through South America, or if I break my leg and can’t go on. God can use me if I exceed everyone’s expectations, or land in jail. Freedom comes from knowing that everything is surrendered to God, and God can use it as God wants.
For the record, Nacho and I did go to the Cathedral in the city of Santiago. The Cathedral is dedicated to the patroness of Chile, Señora de Carmen. If you have downloaded Google Earth onto your computer, you can view my pictorial of the Cathedral by clicking here.
For the record, if you ask me, “Where is AD SODALITATEM going?” I would probably answer as Nacho did… “I don’t know.”
It isn’t that AD SODALITATEM doesn’t have a direction, and it isn’t that I don’t have an idea, but God is the actor in history, not me. And for my part, I think that it is wiser to make plans that are surrendered to God’s will, whatever they are, and wherever they lead.