The image of the path is deeply resonant with my understanding of what it means to follow Jesus faithfully. There's something about walking boots, a rucksack, food and water for the journey that turns a mountain hike into something as spiritual as it is physical.
Hillwalking is the image of the hymn I chose for my Ordination. And the following of the path that is Christ informs the entire hymn, weaving obedience and trust, perseverance and grace, into a prayer of dedication to the journey, and the One who goes before.
The photos were taken up Bennachie today, from the Mither Tap (1699 feet). Standing between the massive rocks, looking down onto the hill range below what you see is a visual image of "a long obedience in the same direction". Below is the first verse of the hymn, Christ of the Upward Way; it is followed by a favourite poem by the early 17th C poet Giles Fletcher. The first line of the stanza I quote has virtually been a Christian mantra at those times when my life hasn't been straightforward, the path isn't clear, the hill is rocky and the body is tired. But He has led me in right paths, for His name's sake. I've believed even when the evidence wasn't in, that "to trust in God with all my heart" is to find that he directs my paths. I have deep affinities with Benedictine spirituality and love the Rule of Benedict as a moderate, sensible framework for Christian obedience, and that first chapter which begins with the promise "I will run in the paths of your commandments.
No I'm not always consistent in practice; but Jesus said he was the way, the truth and the life, and his call to follow faithfully after him remains for me the homing call of the heart, the magnetic North of the soul, and the Gospel of reconciliation in Christ, remains the truth around which the mind finds its orbit, with the prayer, that, in the honesty and humility of a grace not mine, "every thought can be captive to Christ."
Christ of the upward way,my Guide divine,
Where Thou hast set Thy feet, may I place mine;
And move and march wherever Thou hast trod,
Keeping face forward up the hill of God.
Giles Fletcher, from his poem,
He is a path, if any be misled;
He is a robe, if any naked be;
If any chance to hunger, he is bread;
If any be a bondman, he is free;
If any be but weak, how strong is he!
To dead men life is he, to sick men health;
To blind men sight, and to the needy wealth—
A pleasure without loss, a treasure without stealth.