We are nomads, driven by a relentless restlessness and a craving for the material things. Nothing will satisfy us, however, but our true home: "a place in the heart of God where we were created to dwell," writes Craig Barnes, professor of leadership and ministry at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. But how do we begin the journey?

Barnes's framework for exploring Christian spiritual pilgrimage is Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy trilogy (Inferno, Purgatory, Paradise). He also cites the wanderings of his father—who abandoned the pastorate and his family, and whose whereabouts Barnes did not learn until his father died 30 years later. Thus he reflects on the forks in the road we encounter, and the emptiness of those "nomadic souls" who believe the next job, the next marriage, or the next move will satisfy.

Growing in God's love means that "we have to keep leaving behind all of the old illusions that made us worship some part of creation rather than the Creator," Barnes writes. This is our "home," and Barnes explores how living in the light of this knowledge determines the course of our journeys.

Restless Christians should find Barnes's explanation of our yearnings worth pondering.

Cindy Crosby is the author of By Willoway Brook: Exploring the Landscape of Prayer (Paraclete, 2003).

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March 2004

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