4. Knowing the Way

Essay #4 from the book, "Reflections on Providence" by the Rev. Frank S. Rose, Tucson, AZ

Love, joy and happiness are at the heart of the universe. It is reassuring to know that we were created by a God who loves us totally, even with our faults, and wants to share His joy with us.  We might reject Him, but He will never reject us. All He asks is that we learn about the path the leads to heaven, and walk that path to the best of our ability.

“No one becomes an angel, that is, comes into heaven, unless he or she carries angelic qualities from the world.  And in angelic qualities there is a knowledge of the way from walking in it, and a walking in the way through a knowledge of it.” Divine Providence #60

Sometimes when I am walking along my favorite mountain trails I think about this passage. How do you really know a trail? From walking it. How do you find a trail to follow? By learning about its existence.

Usually before we going to hike in a new area, I study my growing collection of maps. I want to know where to find the trail head. I look for the starting altitude, and some indication of how much higher the trail rises or how much it falls. I want to know the total distance and something of the nature of the terrain. Some of this information is in books. Some I have to work out from a study of contour maps.

By the time we set out on a new trail, I know something about it. Without that knowledge I would not know about the existence of the trail, and I might not be willing to walk on it. But do I really know the trail? Not at all. There have been times when I made the mistake of describing a hike to people who wondered if they wanted to come along. After I assured them it was easy, we all found that it was not easy at all. Recently we went along the “Mint Spring Trail.” I told people that it is “relatively flat.” How did I know that? Well, I knew that the trail started at 7960 feet above sea-level, and finished at exactly the same altitude. What I did not know was how much up and down took place between those two points. It turned out to be a delightful trail, but more strenuous than I had originally thought.  From experiences like that I have grown more cautious. And I still make mistakes. I realize that I can learn many things about a trail from books and maps. I walk along the trail from knowing about it.

But I don’t really know the trail until I have walked it. Walking gives me a completely different kind of knowledge than I could ever get from books or from other people. There is only one way to learn a trail - and that is from walking it, not just once, but many times.

The same is true of our spiritual journey. We know about the life that leads to heaven from books - especially the Word. This knowledge enables us to set off on a direction in life, and follow what we consider to be a right path. We walk in that path from knowing about it. As soon as we actually follow the steps that take us along that path, we know it in a totally different way. We know the path from walking it. This is how we learn to become angels, even while living our earthly lives.

—Rev. Frank Rose, Former Pastor of Sunrise Chapel, Tucson, AZ