It might seem like a passing remark to say our spiritual life is a journey, but it is REALLY important not to lose sight of how true it is. The Buddhist writer says, "The raft is not the shore." The raft takes us on a journey with ever changing scenery (like a trip down a great river) with storms and all kinds of variables. So, while still in my Episcopal parish in Nogales, I kept trying to explain what the journey's main features are so my parishioners could understand. Finally I asked the Holy Spirit to help me with this challenge , and came up with an answer that really fit my pastoral need. I envisioned Russian nesting dolls, so the journey could be seen as going deeper and deeper. The outer doll I identified as Religion, which is where we all start. It is not very deep, and has infinite forms like flowers at a Marian shrine with little if any attachment to her yet, or the sign of the cross without real conviction, but sincere none the less. But open this doll and faith appears - doll number two. Of course this movement from outward religious form, to faith, is not a one time event, but ongoing as we journey from our head to our heart (our deepest center). Open the faith doll and we see doll three - the cross. Authentic faith takes us to the cross in myriad forms - most coming as we deal seriously with the passions - something we did not see in the earlier scenery of the trip down the river! If we open the cross doll we find the love doll. We could say bearing the cross brings us to love, and the realization that God really is Love, and that love really is the aim and end of our journey.....well, until you open the love doll and discover the next doll is God Himself ! But there is yet another doll inside the doll identified as God. It is the doll we could mark as a beautiful gift, for you specifically, that God Is keeping close to his heart for your Homecoming. It is, "what no eye has seen, no ear heard, no mind concieved" ..... it is, "what God has in store for those who love Him". Stay on the raft and weather the storms until Jesus brings you to the Shore - you won't regret it !