Faith is the best companion on any journey into the unknown, the trusting belief that each step forward will be met with guidance and grace.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going.

Hebrews 11:8

These days I feel as though I have a lot in common with Abraham at that stage in his life, having been called to embark upon a journey.

Unlike Abraham, however, I did know where I was going. I knew it was time to leave my adopted home of San Francisco to return to the East Coast. I had moved from New York to the City by the Bay and stayed for almost 25 years, despite never really liking it much. But even given my ambivalence, my time on the West Coast gave me two of my life’s greatest gifts.

I credit my time in California for giving me the people and community that contributed to the guidance I received as an aspiring Episcopal deacon. Perhaps even more, my time there gave me the love of my life. San Francisco was where my partner wanted to be, and by his side was where I wanted to be, so I stayed.

Suddenly everything changed. Returning home one evening to find that my partner had passed away in his sleep, I was confronted with the shock of his sudden loss. After a few years passed and I adjusted to life without him, I realized nothing was keeping me where I was. I still loved and missed Eric, but I knew he was with me in spirit, and through my memories, I took him everywhere I went.

I felt ready to journey on in stages, to live my faith by embracing my life filled with gifts, not begrudging what I no longer had or was never given.

Embarking Upon a New Journey

I felt the call to travel across America to be near my family. I sold or gave away many of my belongings and boxed up the rest for the movers. I put my dog, Woody, in the car, and off we went.

My friends in California were surprised because I had no job or place to live lined up. I knew if it was good enough for Abraham and Sarah all those years ago, then I would be just fine.

With calm assurance, I drove across the United States with stops to visit good friends and family.

There were some surprises along the way. Even though it was autumn, the weather didn’t always cooperate. Driving into the flat and barren Texas panhandle, I looked around and thought, I feel just like Elizabeth Taylor in the movie Giant. Then a snowstorm hit, and I didn’t feel like Elizabeth Taylor any longer.

Next there was an ice storm in Oklahoma just before I arrived to visit my nephew for a few days—a storm that left us with no heat in the chilly weather. I slept on the couch in my clothes for three nights before heading to Georgia. Twelve hours in the car without a shower or change of clothes since Denver … it’s no wonder the dog stayed in the back seat.

I’m sure Abraham hit a few snags along his way, too, even though the Bible doesn’t delve into those details. But I took my inspiration from the same faith that sustained Abraham, knowing I was being called to move and each step forward into the unknown was an affirmation of faith that would be met with guidance and grace, despite some inconveniences.

Building an Altar to the Lord

I made it to my sister’s house in upstate New York in early November, happy to have arrived, and with some rich stories in tow. I enjoyed a restorative period, grateful to be once again in the arms of my family.

I had done my part, stepping out in faith and answering the call of my heart. So I shouldn’t have been surprised when a job posting (and only one) appeared unbidden in my email inbox. I applied and soon after began working for the Episcopal Church in New York. A month later, I had procured an apartment in Manhattan, almost as easily.

The Bible summed up Abraham’s leg of his journey this way: “So Abram moved his tent, and came and settled by the oaks of Mamre, which are at Hebron; and there he built an altar to the Lord”(Genesis 13:18). Our parallel tracks end there, I suppose. I am grateful to have taken my cue from this story, to journey by car, but mostly by faith, into the unknown.

I don’t know what the next stage of my journey will be, and I don’t need to know.

I do know the Hudson River is mere steps from my new home. And some days, when the wind is right, Woody the beagle and I get to the bottom of the steps, and he stops to face west and catch the tantalizing scents the breeze sends his way. He stands, sniffs, and seems, like me, to embrace the gratitude of a life filled with gifts. Then he is ready to go, and we journey down the sidewalk. Just like Abraham and Sarah, all those years ago.

This article appeared in Daily Word© magazine.

About the Author

The Rev. David Stickley is an Episcopal deacon who works as an associate in the Department of Faith Formation of the Episcopal Church. He lives in New York City.


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