More from Doerr
In the Tom Andrews Studio I open my journal and stare out at the trunk of the umbrella pine and do my best to fight off the atrophy that comes from seeing things too frequently. I try to shape a few sentences around this tiny corner of Rome; I try to force my eye to slow down. A good journal entry—like a good song, or sketch, or photograph—ought to break up the habitual and lift away the film that forms over the eye, the finger, the tongue, the heart. A good journal entry ought be a love letter to the world.
Leave home, leave the country, leave the familiar. Only then can routine experience—buying bread, eating vegetables, even saying hello—become new all over again.
The same can be said of the routine of worship. In my first sermon after returning from Rome I spoke of how the difference between visiting Rome as a tourist and visiting as a pilgrim were the moments when, beyond the awe of the beauty of churches, beyond the incredible feeling of being in churches where Christians had prayed for almost 2000 years, I felt connected to the Christians praying beside me. We didn’t share language, culture, or rite but in that moment we shared a common faith, a common love and we abided together in that love. As I spoke these words and looked out at these people I gather with once a month, people I’m coming to know, I was struck by how what I found in Rome is something I experience regularly here. The familiarity of worship in Southern Alberta had obscured for me the joy and miracle of coming together in a common faith with a community of people which whom I might not otherwise have come together with.
“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”
T.S.Eliot from The Four Quartets