How did your journey start? It doesn’t have to have any spiritual basis, but I suspect if you do look at life as an unfolding journey there will, at some level, be something outside of your own though patterns that has influenced where you now find yourself. Obviously for some this question is unlikely to have a satisfactory answer because the journey itself may be tragically short, but for a good few the journey will take a life-time and will be punctuated by a number of pitstops to check over the map, refuel and switch direction if need be. That is, if your life has followed a similar pattern to mine.
More often than not those pitstops are memorable events. They don’t have to be particularly significant, but we remember them because they represent a shift in direction, or the way we think about something, which then ultimately has an impact on decisions we eventually make.
Being born to Jordanian parents, but brought up in England was not particularly significant or noteworthy for me until I actually went to Jordan and was forced to engage with a culture that I discovered I was totally at odds with.
I was 21 years old, white, British, spoke without any sort of accent and until that point was living an uneventful life in South London. However, returning from that maiden trip into the unknown I realised that life had shifted couple of gears. It wasn’t instant, like speeding off at a green light, but a dawning that something wasn’t quite right and I wasn’t who I thought I was.
Was that the beginning of ‘a call’? Most calls I knew then, and still know of now, usually start and end with a nun and almost always involve some sort of risk taking. But what if the call is just a feeling – a restlessness that you can’t quite capture or pin down? I had returned from Jordan feeling isolated and rootless and that was it. There were no words written in sand. Neither was there an audible voice prophesying the next 50 years of my life. Yet, there is no denying the sense that something or someone was calling to me and I resented it. I know that sounds a little ungrateful, but I was young, strong willed and didn’t want to follow any other rules but my own.
Looking back I wonder what all the fuss was about. I hadn’t been asked to put on a habit or sail east (that came many years later – well not the habit bit), God had just said, “You want roots, I’ll give you roots.” Weird. I had no idea what that meant and to be honest I wasn’t that fussed about what He said next either, “Just trust and obey me.” It all seemed a bit too random for me, but I had no other choice. Stay rootless or stick with the journey.